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Popular Vote vs Electoral College


Electoral College Decides President, Not Popular Vote 

On Dec. 15, the electors will meet in each state to cast their ballots.



Greensboro, NC -- Voters will cast their ballots Tuesday for the next president, but the another group of voters will actually make the decision official in December.

The president is not chosen by a nation-wide popular vote. A group of electors, called the electoral college, chooses the president based on the votes in each state.

The electoral college is made of 538 citizens. A candidate needs 270 votes to win the election.

On Dec. 15, the electors will meet in each state to cast their ballots.

North Carolina has 15 electors. The number of electoral votes allotted to each state corresponds to the number of Representatives and Senators that each state sends to Congress.

Electoral votes are awarded on a winner-takes-all basis 48 of the 50 states, including North Carolina. The Electoral College process is part of the original design of the United States Constitution.

North Carolina's 15 electors are picked by the winning party. They are usually party loyalists. They are supposed to cast their vote to reflect the state's winner. There is, however, no federal law enforcing that.

In North Carolina, an unfaithful elector is replaced and fined $500 and his or her vote is canceled.

John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University, said this country's electoral college concept dates back to the 1700s. He said the reasoning was that Congress would not be making the decision and neither would the people as a whole who might not be well-informed.

He said people argue the electoral college still serves a purpose. He said it forces the candidates to get to know the issues of a state in a way they might not be able to do if the country selected a president based on a national popular vote.

It is possible that a candidate would win the presidential race by earning the most electoral votes, but not the popular vote. The most recent example was the 2000 election in which George Bush received fewer popular votes than Al Gore, but received the majority of electoral votes.

To read details about the electoral college process and why the United States uses it,  click here.

Entry #443


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