The search “What is the electoral college?” spiked on Google following Donald Trump winning the election for president of the United States. Many people are wondering where things went wrong in the election for Hillary Clinton despite leading the popular vote. Questions have been raised, and people want answers. Has Donald Trump’s election to be president caused Americans to get more informed about their government and voting system?
According to Google Trends, the question “What is the electoral college?” is one of the top questions about the electoral college today. It seems that Americans know that something happened with the electoral college vote, which caused Donald Trump to win the presidency, but it is obvious many people were uninformed about what the electoral college even was.
Donald Trump’s election to be president of the United States has half of the country furious and wondering what went wrong, especially because Clinton appeared to have won the popular vote. It is possible that Donald Trump’s win is causing more Americans to want to become informed about the U.S. government and the voting system in order to understand what is going on.
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According to the U.S. Electoral College: National Archives and Records Administration, the electoral college is a process, not a place. It was created by the Founding Fathers as a compromise so that both Congress and the popular vote of qualified citizens would be considered in the election for president.
The electoral college has 538 electors. In order to elect the president, there has to be a majority of 270 electoral votes.
Your state’s number of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation — one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators.
The District of Columbia gets three electors because that is the minimum number of electors allowed, according to the 23rd Amendment.
Every state in America, except for Maine and Nebraska, typically give the vote of all of their electors to the candidate who receives the majority of the vote.
In other words, if Washington D.C. has three electors and two voted for Donald Trump and one voted for Hillary Clinton, the majority of the votes were for Trump, so he would receive the three electoral votes for the District of Columbia.
Some states even require their electors to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes, but even in the states where it is not required, Electoral College members rarely go against the will of the people.
According to CNN, the electors from each state in this year’s election heavily favored Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, especially ethnically diverse states like California, New York, and Illinois. Those three states had a combined 104 electoral college votes, which is more than a third of the 270 votes needed to win.
So what happened?
The use of the electoral college system means that a candidate can win the popular vote and lose the election. Prior to this year’s election, back in 2000, Democrat Al Gore was defeated by George W. Bush even though Gore won the majority of the votes nationwide.
According to CBS News, Hillary Clinton is the second candidate in modern U.S. history to experience that outcome. The other two occurrences were back in the 19th century.
Even Donald Trump has reportedly trashed the electoral college in the past. He reportedly deleted tweets that he posted back in 2012.
“The phony electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one! He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!”
Many people are wondering why there is even a need for the electoral college anymore. Hundreds of proposals have been introduced in Congress to get rid of the electoral college. However, few have ever gained any momentum to move forward because of how challenging it is to amend the Constitution.
There is one proposal to implement a plan that would elect the president based on the national popular vote, and it has slowly been gaining momentum across the U.S. over the last decade.
The plan was introduced in 50 legislatures and 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed this legislation totaling 165 electoral votes.
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