Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It ain't that kind of college

For some people there is one aspect of the election cycle that is more baffling, more complicated, and more intimidating than anything else. It’s not trying to understand constitutional policy about voting. It’s not trying to understand early voting numbers. It’s not polling and weird news reports. It isn’t even strangers showing up at your door asking for your vote. It’s the Electoral College. The uber scary Electoral College monster is out to get you.

Don’t go hide under the bed, dirty birdies, The Electoral College isn’t as scary as it seems, the media just makes it sound that way when they explain it. Too many yadda yadda’s and double talk. So, I am going to do what I do best here at History’s Mistress and give it to you straight.

The Electoral College came into being on September 8th, 1787. The 12th amendment in the constitution sets up how the whole shebang works and was formally adopted in 1780. Essentially the college is this: 538 votes. Yep, that’s all. The votes are made up of 435 Representatives to the House and 100 Senators. The District of Columbia, i.e. Washington D.C., gets 3 votes making up a total of 538. The distribution of votes comes from the population of the states in questions. (U.S. Territories do not get votes in the electoral college. Places like Guam and Puerto Rico. Hence the arguement that some of these places have for statehood.) My state of Nevada had 5 votes in the 2008 election but we now have 6. This is due in part to the population going up over the course of the four years as well as re-distribution of districts. Because Nevada gained a vote that means another state lost one. There can only ever be 538 votes. No more, no less.

The candidate that receives 270 of those votes is the winner and gets to be president. Now here comes the complicated part. The votes are awarded based on the direction of the popular vote in that state. For example in the current election if the popular vote in Nevada leans to Barack Obama, then all 6 will go to Obama.

That said there are two states that do not award their electoral votes as a whole, what is known as the winner-takes-all rule. Nebraska and Maine follow the proportional votes rule. Time for another example. Say that in Nebraska, Gov. Romney takes all but one district in the popular vote. That means he would take 4 out of the 5 electoral votes allotted to Nebraska and President Obama would receive one. This rarely happens but that said in the 2008 election President Obama took one vote to McCain’s four. Confused or are you still with me?

So that pretty much sums up the Electoral College in layman’s terms. Not so scary now is it? Of course the framers of the constitution put in contingency plans for if the electoral vote ends up tied at 269 apiece.  I’m not going into this those, my little blog loves, because this is where it gets confusing and convolute to me. If it gets me muddled you know it is cray-cray. I have included a video from Rachel Maddow and I’ll let her explain it to you. She’s better at it anyway.

There you have it, the big scary Electoral College explained in 500 words or less. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, it is your choice. Just remember to vote. I can’t stress how important it is to exercise your civic duty. Remember if you don’t vote, I won’t let you bitch about the winner later on. Vote is sexy and important. So be sexy and important and do it!

No comments:

Post a Comment