Electoral College Members Vote Today

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Electoral College Members Vote Today

The vote for president of the United States occurred today. Electors met in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast votes for president, a vote that is expected to place Joe Biden in the White House on January 20.


Under the Constitution, it is electors, not voters, who decide who is president. On Election Day, voters cast ballots for a slate of electors. These electors then meet in their respective state capitals in December to vote on who will be president and vice-president. Their only constitutional limitation is that they cannot vote for two people from the same state. Washington, D.C., and 26 states also require that electors vote for whomever won that state's popular vote. Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of its congressional delegation.


A joint session of Congress will convene in January to count the electoral votes and formally declare a winner of the presidential election. During that time, members of Congress can object to either a single electoral vote or a state's slate of electoral votes. Such an objection must be presented in writing and signed by a member of the House of Representatives and a senator. While individual members of Congress have objected during the vote counting, an objection has only been considered twice -- in 1968 and 2005. When this happens, the House and Senate meet in individual sessions to consider the objection. Both houses must vote to sustain it in order for the vote or votes to be thrown out.


Generally, the meeting of the Electoral College is a routine process. However, due to claims of voting fraud by President Trump and his allies, this year it is being watched more closely than in many other years. 


There have long been efforts to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. Critics claim it is a vestige of pre-democratic times, when a slaveholding class was looking to preserve its power. They say that the president should be chosen by popular vote. Supporters of the Electoral College argue that it provides an incentive for presidential candidates to pay attention to the entire country, not merely a few highly populated areas. They also note that it produces a clear winner, which may not happen if there are disputes over the popular vote.


What do you think about the Electoral College? Do you support abolishing it?

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