The Electoral College system is not a simple as a first past the post system. The Electoral College came about with the founding fathers wanting a “buffer” between the population and the selection of a President. There were fears that a tyrant would be able to manipulate public opinion and seize power. Also had to make a compromise with the smaller states who feared they would lose influence because of their small population
Americans vote for people called ‘electors’ in their state who are supporting the candidate they want to be president.
Each state gets a certain amount of electors which is calculated by looking at the size of the state and population of the state, so California with a population of 38.8 million have 55 votes, compared to Delaware population of 936000 people have 3 electoral college votes.
Most states award their electoral votes on a winner takes all basis, so if most people vote democrat in Florida, then democrats win all 29 of their votes.
Over all 538 electoral votes across the country, and a candidate needs the 270 majority for them to win.
The Electoral College has been criticised for many reasons, there is the possibility of electing a minority president, i.e. a candidate without the absolute majority of popular votes. This is more likely when the country is deeply divided politically or if a third party candidate takes too many Electoral College votes in order for a candidate to gain a majority.
Issues can also be raised if a “faithless voter” emerges, someone may pledge to vote for his party’s candidate for president, but in fact vote for another candidate. The Electoral College system can also over represent people in rural states.
Yet the Electoral System also has its benefits, Electoral College can actually enhance minority groups representation. Voters of even small minorities in a State may make the difference between winning all of that State’s electoral votes or in fact none of that State’s electoral votes.
Listen to Burn FM on Tuesday at 7 pm for the News Team analysis of the US election.