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2020 Presidential Election Map

The Electoral College

The United States uses an indirect method of electing the President centered around the Electoral College.

See The Electoral College from Exploring Constitutional Conflicts of arguments for and against this feature of the American system

  • Each state is given electoral votes equal to the number of representatives they have in the House of Representatives (as determined by the Census) plus two more for each of the state's two Senators.
    • Small states have influence (for example Montana and Wyoming with 3 electoral votes as of 2008) while large states have a greater voice (California has 55 electoral votes, Texas 34, and New York 31).
  • Electoral votes are distributed on a winner take all basis. A candidate with the most votes in a state (although not necessarily a majority) gets that state's electoral votes.

  • Maine and Nebraska have a slight variation where they assign some electoral votes to the statewide winner and some to each Congressional district winner.
    • Critics of the electoral college system contend that it produces apathy among voters since in contemporary American politics many states are solidly for the Democratic or Republican Party.

Faithless Electors are members of the Electoral College who do not vote for their party's designated candidate

2016 Presidential Election

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Ambigram by Basilemorin
Ambigram by Basilemorin

The Electoral College is Hated by Many, So Wh Does It Endure? The New York Times, November 10, 2016

Clinton's Substantial Popular Vote Win, The New York Times, November 11, 2016
  • Hillary Clinton will have a larger popular vote margin than Al Gore (2000), Richard Nixon (1968) or John F. Kennedy (1960)

Four Other Presidential Races Where Candidates Won the Popular Vote and Lost the Election
  • Al Gore (2000)
  • Grover Cleveland (1888)
  • Samuel Tilden (1876)
  • Andrew Jackson (1824)

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Ideas for Reform

Early Voting

Voting Early and in Droves, 22 Million Ballots are Already In, The New York Times (October 31, 2016).
  • This article includes early voting state maps and trends during the 2016 Presidential election.

National Popular Vote

FairVote Support National Popular Vote

Proportional Allocation of Electoral Votes

Proportional Allocation of Electoral Votes is one proposal for change.
  • Instead of a winner take all system, electoral votes would be divided according to percentage of votes that each candidate received in a state.
    • In 2000, for example, George W. Bush won Florida by 534 votes over Al Gore and received the state's 25 electoral votes. If the electoral votes were distributed proportionally, Bush would have received 13 and Gore 12, giving the election to Gore.

Click here to see how proportional allocation of electoral votes would affect the 2012 election, state by state

Instant Runoff/Ranked-Choice Voting

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Instant Runoff Voting is a widely discussed idea for reforming American elections.

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Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.27.35 AM.png**Instant Run Voting: An Interactive Animation**

Rates of voting in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election by income, Rcragun
Rates of voting in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election by income, Rcragun

Voting and Fair Elections

The following organizations are concerned with ensuring fair elections, promoting electoral reform, and registering new voters.

  • The Center for Voting and Democracy - The Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to research and action on voting issues. They are "dedicated to fair elections where every vote counts and all voters are represented." Election reform is a subject of specific interest to the Center.
    • Rock the Vote - This youth-oriented organization encourages informed voting and political activism among citizens and potential voters between the ages of 18 and 30. Rock the Vote's informational campaigns combine the efforts of popular music and movie stars with those of politicians in order to inform and entertain about political issues.
      • Federal Election Commission - Created by Congress in 1975, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) administers and enforces the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which is the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The FEC is an independent regulatory agency, which discloses campaign finance information, enforces limits and prohibitions on contributions, and oversees the public funding of Presidential elections.
Multimedia.pngClick here to watch a commercial of Rock the Vote.