Monday, January 6, 2020

How Many Electoral Votes Does a Candidate Need to Win

It is not enough to get the majority of votes to become president. A majority of electoral votes are required. There are 538 possible electoral votes. 270 electoral votes are required for a candidate to win the electoral college vote.   Who are the  Electors? Students should know that the Electoral College is not really  a â€Å"college as in academic institution. A better way to understand the word college is by reviewing its  etymology  in this context  as a gathering of like-minded: ...from Latin  collegium  community, society, guild, literally association of  collegae,  plural of  collega  partner in office, from assimilated form of  com  with, together...   The selected representatives who are granted  into  the Electoral College  number adds up to  538 total  electors, all elected to cast votes on the behalf of their  respective states. The basis for the number of electors per state is population, which is also the same basis for representation in Congress.  Each state is entitled to the number of electors equal to the combined number of their representatives and senators in Congress. At a minimum, that grants each state three elector votes.     The 23rd Amendment, ratified in 1961, gave the District of Columbia a state level  parity, the condition of being equal, with a minimum of three electoral votes. After the year 2000, California could claim the highest number of electors (55); seven states and the District of Columbia have the minimum number of electors (3). State legislatures determine who is selected in any manner that they choose. Most use the winner-take-all, where the candidate who wins the states popular vote is awarded the states entire slate of electors. At this time, Maine and Nebraska are the only states that do not use a winner-take-all system. Maine and Nebraska award two electoral votes to the winner of the states popular vote. They give the remaining voters an opportunity to cast a ballot for their own districts. To win the presidency, a candidate needs more than 50 percent of the electoral votes. Half of 538 is 269. Therefore,  a candidate needs 270 votes to win.  Ã‚   Why Was the Electoral College Created? The United States system of indirect democratic voting  was created by the Founding Fathers as a compromise, a  choice between allowing Congress to elect a president or by giving potentially uninformed citizens the direct vote. Two framers of the Constitution, James  Madison, and Alexander Hamilton  opposed the popular vote for president. Madison wrote in  Federalist Paper #10  that theoretical politicians have erred in  reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights. He argued that men could not be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions. In other words, not all men had the education or the temperament to vote. Alexander Hamilton considered the how the fears of tampering that could be introduced with direct voting in an essay in  Federalist Paper  #68,  Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. Students could participate in a close reading of Hamiltons low opinion of the average voter in the  Federalist Paper #68  in order to understand the context these framers were using in creating the Electoral College. Federalist Papers #10 and #68, as with  all other primary source documents, will mean students need to  read and reread in order to understand the text. With a primary source document, the first reading allows students to determine what the text says.  Their  second reading is meant to figure out how the text works. The third and final reading is to analyze and compare the text. Comparing the  changes to Article II through the 12th and 23rd Amendments would be part of the third reading. Students should understand that the framers of the Constitution felt an Electoral College (informed voters selected by states)  would answer  these concerns and provided a framework for the Electoral College in  Article II, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution: The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot  for two Persons,  of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves The first major test of this clause came with the election of 1800.  Thomas Jefferson and Aaron  Burr  ran together, but they  tied in the popular vote. This  election showed a  defect in the original Article; two votes could be cast for candidates running on party tickets. That resulted in a tie between the two candidates from the most popular ticket. Partisan political activity was causing a constitutional crisis.  Burr claimed victory, but after several rounds and with an endorsement from Hamilton, state  representatives chose Jefferson.  Students could discuss how Hamiltons choice may have contributed to his ongoing feud with Burr as well. The  12th Amendment to the Constitution  was quickly proposed and approved with speed to correct the flaw. Students should pay close attention to the new wording that changed two persons  to the respective offices for President and Vice President: The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and  vote by ballot for President and Vice-President,... The new wording in the Twelfth Amendment requires that  each elector cast separate and distinct votes for each office  instead of two votes for President.  Using the same provision in Article II, electors may not vote for candidates from their state—at least one of them must be from another state. If no candidate for President has a majority of the total votes, a  quorum  of the House of Representatives, voting by states  chooses the President.   ...  But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.   The Twelfth Amendment then requires the House of Representatives to choose from the three (3) highest receivers of electoral votes,  a change in number from the five (5) highest under the original Article II. How to Teach Students about the Electoral College A high school graduate today has lived through five presidential elections, two of which have been determined by the Constitutional creation known as the Electoral College. These elections were  Bush vs. Gore (2000)  and  Trump vs Clinton (2016). For them, the Electoral College has chosen the president in 40% of the elections.  Since the popular vote has only mattered 60% of the time, students need to be informed as to why the responsibility to vote still matters. Engaging Students There are new national standards for studying social studies (2015) called the  College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies.  In many ways, the C3s are a response  today to the concerns expressed by the Founding Fathers about uninformed citizens when they wrote the Constitution.  The C3s are organized around the principle that: Active and responsible citizens are able to identify and analyze public problems, deliberate with other people about how to define and address issues, take constructive action together, reflect on their actions, create and sustain groups, and influence institutions both large and small. Forty-seven states  and the District of Columbia now have requirements for high school civics education through state statutes.  The goal of these civics classes is to teach students about how the United States Government operates, and that includes the Electoral College. Students can research the two elections in their lifetimes that required the Electoral College:  Bush vs. Gore (2000)  and  Trump vs Clinton (2016).  Students could note the correlation of the Electoral College with voter turnout,  with the 2000 election recorded voter turnout at 48.4%; the 2016 recorded voter turnout at 48.2%. Students can use data  to study population trends. A new census every 10 years may shift the number of electors from states who have lost population to states who have gained population. Students can make predictions as to where the population shifts may impact political identities.   Through this research, students can develop an understanding how a vote can matter, as opposed to a decision made by the Electoral College. The C3s are organized so that students will better understand this  and other civic responsibilities noting that as citizens: They vote, serve on juries when called, follow the news and current events, and participate in voluntary groups and efforts. Implementing the C3 Framework to teach students to be able to act in these ways—as citizens—significantly enhances preparation for college and career. Finally, students can participate in a debate in class or on a national platform as to whether the Electoral College system should continue. Those opposed to the Electoral College argue that it  gives less populated states an over-sized influence in a presidential election. Smaller states are guaranteed at least three electors, even though each elector represents a much smaller number of voters. Without the three vote guarantee, more populated states would have more control with a popular vote. There are websites dedicated to changing the Constitution such as the  National Popular Vote  Ã‚  or the  National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which  is an  agreement that would have states award their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.   These resources mean that while the Electoral College may be described as an indirect democracy in action, students can be directly involved in determining its future.

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