Ilona Nickels
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Ilona's Blog: November 2020

Defending the Electoral College by Ilona Nickels

The Electoral College exists to prevent
one region of the country from
dominating national election outcomes
due to simply having more residents
than any other state.

California should pick our President, saving the rest of the states a lot of bother. Would anyone agree with that statement? Yet, that would be the result if the voices wanting to abolish the Electoral College were to prevail.

The most recent instance of a presidential election decided by the Electoral College vote, and not the popular vote, was Trump v. Clinton in 2016. Partisans regularly refer to that outcome as an unfair refutation of the wishes of the majority of voters because Clinton's share of the national popular vote exceeded Trump's by about 2.8 million.

But, it is not factual to refer to Clinton's popular vote victory as a national mandate. Let's be more precise.

Clinton won California with 4.3 million more votes than Trump drew in the state. Clinton's larger popular vote margin in the national election did not come equally distributed from voters across the 50 United States. It came from California.

In fact, if you examine the popular vote totals outside of the state of California, Trump won 58,474,401 votes from the rest of the nation, while Clinton won 57,064,530.

The Framers of our Constitution created the Electoral College for several reasons. First and foremost, to prevent one region of the country from dominating national election outcomes due to simply having more residents than any other state.

The 2000 contested presidential election between Bush and Gore brought the Electoral College process to the attention of many American citizens for the first time. There have been five presidential elections in which the successful candidate won the Electoral College vote, but not the popular vote: 1824 (Adams), 1876 (Hayes), 1888 (Harrison), 2000 (Bush), and 2016 (Trump).

Each State's allotment of electors is equal to the number of House members to which it is entitled plus two Senators. Therefore, the Electoral College consists of 538 electors (one for each of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators; and three for the District of Columbia.)

And, as we all know today after all those decision desk tally boards, a majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President and Vice President.

If no presidential candidate were to win a majority of electoral votes, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the presidential election to be decided by the House of Representatives.

But that's another column…


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