ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES ALREADY COMMITTED?
November 1, 2004
Tomorrow is election day. In order for a candidate to become president of these united States of America, he must attain the required 270 electoral college votes. The national election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. On the Monday following the second Wednesday of December (as established in federal law) each State's Electors meet in their respective State capitals and cast their electoral votes-one for president and one for vice president. This year that means the electoral college delegates will vote for President and vice-president on December 13, 2004.
Although ballots typically list the names of the presidential candidates, voters within the 50 states and the District of Columbia (which is considered a state when voting for president, according to Amendment XXIII of the Constitution) actually choose electors when they vote for president. These electors in turn cast the official votes for president on the date as set forth by federal law.
The electoral votes are then sealed and transmitted from each State to the President of the Senate who, on the following January 6, opens and reads them before both houses of the Congress. The candidate for president with the most electoral votes, provided that it is an absolute majority (one over half of the total), is declared president. Similarly, the vice presidential candidate with the absolute majority of electoral votes is declared vice president.
How does this "electoral college" work?
"The number of electors assigned to each state is equal to the number of Senator (always two) and Representatives that the state has in , but no Senator or Representative may serve as an elector. The number of electors for the District of Columbia is equal to the number of senators and representatives for the least populous state (presently three).
"In all but two states, the party that wins the most popular votes becomes that state's electors, essentially a winner-take-all. The two exceptions are the states of Maine and Nebraska, where two of the electors are chosen by the popular vote statewide, and the rest are determined by the popular vote within each Congressional district.
"The electors in each state vote on separate ballots for President and Vice President, at least one of whom may not be an inhabitant of that state. This restriction is in place to prevent electors from voting solely for the "favorite sons" from their home state. To avoid this, political parties make sure to nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates from different states. In practice, the voters choose slates of electors pledged to candidates for president and vice president; in most states, the names of the electors do not appear on the ballot. Legally, the electors are free to cast their votes for anyone they choose; in practice, electors almost never vote for a candidate they are not pledged to. Several states, but not all, have laws stating that if an elector becomes "faithless" and does not vote for the candidate to which he is pledged he can be replaced, but the constitutionality of such laws is debated and has never been tested."
Is my vote for president and vice President meaningful in the Electoral College system? The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provides the answer:
"Yes, within your State your vote has a great deal of significance. Under the Electoral College system, we do not elect the President and Vice President through a direct nation-wide vote. The Presidential election is decided by the combined results of 51 State elections (in this context, the term "State" includes DC). It is possible that an elector could ignore the results of the popular vote, but that occurs very rarely. Your vote helps decide which candidate receives your State's electoral votes.
"The founders of the nation devised the Electoral College system as part of their plan to share power between the States and the national government. Under the Federal system adopted in the U.S. Constitution, the nation-wide popular vote has no legal significance. As a result, it is possible that the electoral votes awarded on the basis of State elections could produce a different result than the nation-wide popular vote. Nevertheless, the individual citizen's vote is important to the outcome of each State election."
The delegates are chosen by the political parties in each state. In a nutshell, this means that political parties in a state choose their electoral college delegates and those delegates, historically, are faithful to the party 99.99% of the time. This appeared to be the case back in 2000, quoting from the Sacramento Bee, December 14, 2000: "Now the spotlight turns to the Electoral College and because it is so closely divided for Bush (271) to Gore (267), some Republican electors say they have been besieged by telephone callers asking them to switch sides.
"If they kidnapped my children, I would not vote for Albert Gore for any office," said Albert Jurley, a Republican elector from North Carolina. Elector Alex Arshinkoff of Akron, Ohio, said he "would not vote for Gore if the Virgin Mary visited me for dinner and asked me to. No Way." In 2000, North Carolina allegedly voted this way (although with vote fraud one can't be sure): Democrats voted 1,257,692 (43.15%) for Gore and Republicans voted 1,631,163 (55.96%) for Bush. All 14 electoral college delegate votes went to Bush.
The question in my mind: How is it that the media can call the electoral college delegate votes months in advance before the voters go to the polls or the electoral college delegates legally cast their vote?
On March 19, 2000, the Sacramento Bee had an electoral college map which depicted how the electoral college would vote in November 2000. On September 3, 2000, the Sacramento Bee had another electoral college map which basically showed the same results. There were only a few flip flops, i.e. NM, Wisconsin, TN, otherwise they were the same. In the September 22, 2000 Sacramento Bee, the headlines were: Gore grabs electoral college. This breakdown had Gore ahead by a few states which in the end gave all their electoral college votes to Bush. The final tally pretty much agreed with the March 19, 2000 map, long before anyone went to the polls or the date when the electors are supposed to vote - the Monday following the second Wednesday of December as established in federal law.
According to media sources, these electoral college 'projections' are based on current polling. Supposedly, allegedly, according to polls, it's a neck and neck horse race between Bush and Kerry. According to very recent "polling," the electoral college votes should go this way:
- Bush (includes strong Bush, weak Bush and barely Bush): 281
- Kerry (includes strong Kerry, weak Kerry and barely Kerry): 236
- Exactly tied: 21
- Total of 538 electors; 270 need to win
On September 27, 2004, CNN carried a story proclaiming that Bush had "reached a symbolic milestone, overtaking Democratic challenger John Kerry in New Hampshire and Iowa to claim more than 300 electoral votes in CNN's weekly Electoral College scorecard.....If the election were held today, Bush would receive 301 electoral votes to Kerry's 237, according to a CNN survey based on state polling as well as interviews with campaign aides and independent analysts. A candidate wins the election with 270 electoral votes, regardless of the popular vote."
On October 11, 2004, CNN carried a story which state, "President Bush headed into his second debate with John Kerry Friday night holding a sizable lead in the all-important race for electoral votes, but Kerry has made big gains this week in seven battleground states, a new CNN survey suggests.... If the election were held today, Bush likely would win 301 electoral votes to Kerry's 237, according to a new CNN survey based on state polling as well as interviews with campaign aides and independent analysts. A candidate wins the election with at least 270 electoral votes, regardless of the popular vote."
On October 29, 2004, FOX News carried a prediction segment announcing Bush would take the election with 281 electoral college votes to Kerry's 236. In the same segment, the latest polling shows the popular vote as Bush 50%, Kerry 48%. Hmmm. That leaves 2% of the population either undecided or voting for another candidate according to this poll.
Some Americans began voting more than a week ago through absentee ballots, but the majority of voters will hit the polling booths tomorrow. It will be interesting to see the final tally for electoral college votes and how they compare to "predictions." I wonder how many people will look at how their electoral college delegate is going to vote before they do and decide it's not worth the effort? After all, federal law says the electors meet and vote this year on December 13th, not November 2nd and certainly not in September or October.
© 2004 Devvy Kidd - All Rights Reserved
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Devvy Kidd authored the booklets, Why A Bankrupt America and Blind Loyalty, which sold close to 2,000,000 copies. Has been a guest more than 1600 times on radio shows, ran for Congress twice and is a highly sought after public speaker. Devvy is a contributing writer for www.NewsWithViews.com Devvy's web site is: www.devvy.com; is sponsored by El Dorado Gold; e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org