The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections

There are many aspects to the electoral college. The reason the electoral college was chosen, the numbers that are significant in the electoral college, how exactly the electoral college is constructed into a uniform piece to elect the president of the United States, and the benefits of the electoral college system, shall be explained to the full extent.

During the drafting stage of the constitution, there were many ideas on what the system should be used to elect the Chief Executive. The system that is currently implemented is the electoral college, in which the citizens’ votes are used to appoint electors, of which those elect the Chief Executive. The system was created by the founding fathers in a “compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens”(“What is the Electoral College?”). The founding fathers felt “It would be wise to permit average citizens to vote but wanted to stay true to their republican principles.”(“Government 101: Electoral College”). The system was built to give the citizens a voting right, but make sure that minorities were given an equal vote to their counterparts. A popular vote implies that there each voice of a citizen is equal and that there is no difference. This information is false as there is discrimination and other factors to make everybody’s voice different. Under the Electoral College system, the minorities can get represented for common issues by an elector to have a voice in the system to fix imbalances. While the Electoral College system has its flaws, it is better than some of the other systems, such as a popular vote system and an authoritarian system. A popular vote system is primarily unused as can allow for misinformed voters to elect an ill-fitted person to gain the presidency, which is mainly why an electoral system was put into place. An authoritarian system was denied as the founding fathers deemed it was too near to a dictatorship, which was the opposite intent when founding the country.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and to be elected president one must gain 270 of those electors. The number 270 is significant as it is the elector number divided in half plus one. These electors represent a little over half the country. The electoral votes consist of the number of senators in the U.S. Senate and the number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives for each state. The number of senators for all states is two, for equal representation, no matter population size. While the current number of U.S. House of Representatives is locked at 435, the electors are distributed by population size throughout all the states. The population is gathered in the census of every decade. No matter the population size, each state is allotted one member in the House of Representatives, thus, the minimum number of electors a state is able to obtain is three. The distribution of electoral votes, known as apportionment, is done by ranking and prioritizing larger states then assigning. In addition, the District of Columbia is given three electoral votes. This is as “DC citizens were prohibited from voting in Presidential elections until the 23rd amendment” (Richards). This ensures that even the residents in the District of Columbia are fairly represented in the presidential elections. While one may argue that it does not seem fair, one must realize that “DC’s population is under one million (572,059 in 2000).”(Richards) yet, “DC has a larger population than Wyoming (493,782 in 2000)”(Richards) and are citizens of the United States. In total, that is 538 electoral votes.

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