The Electoral College

The Electoral College
  • 1692
  • 54
  • 11

My Recent Posts

I know this subject has been briefly discussed, in passing, but when I was a High School History teacher, the hardest thing for my 10th grade Civics class to understand, I found, was the Electoral College: what it is, why it was established, and how it works. With the election looming, I thought we here on Writer Beat could discuss the body and its machinations, to dispel any misunderstandings that apparently so many of our fellow citizens have about the process.


Like a lot of our Constitutional compromises, the Electoral College was a trade-off designed to keep the mob rule of democracy from electing a demagogue based on sheer popularity. I know, I know, it's impossible to imagine that ever happening, right?


So, the idea is that each state has a certain number of Electors, based on their representation in congress. To review that, every state has two Senators, regardless of its size, and as another compromise between big and small states, the other house of Congress, the House of Representatives, is made up of Congressmen apportioned based on population, with states having larger populations having more Representatives. So, as long as there's fifty states, there's one hundred (50x2) Senators, but the number of Representatives can increase or decrease in each state, and in Congress, based on apportionment as a population increases or decreases, as measured after each Census at the end of each decade. The next Census, and therefore the next opportunity for reapportionment, when states may gain or lose Representation in Congress, will be in 2020.


The number of Electors a state has, then, is the same as the combined number of Senators and Congressmen it has. All but two states are 'winner-take all', with the candidate who wins the majority of the vote, or a plurality, in that state, receiving all of that state's Electoral votes. With those two exceptions, the vote can be split, by Congressional district. I know, it's sounding more and more complicated, but I'm trying to keep this simple.


The President isn't elected on November 8th. The Electoral College meets in January to select the President. If no candidate gets the 270 Electoral votes to make a majority, the decision goes to the House of Representatives. That's happened, before. The awkward thing is that states have different means of selecting who will be an Elector, from elected officials to party hacks and activists. They're SUPPOSED to follow the will of the people of their state, at least traditionally, but they don't HAVE to. After all, that's why the Electoral College was created in the first place, wasn't it?


So, the candidate with the greatest number of votes on November 8th won't necessarily be the next President. Just ask Al Gore.


Billy Roper Added Nov 1, 2016 - 7:59pm
Some people are under the impression that the election could be "rigged" by the Electors not voting as the majority in their states voted, but the Electoral College was actually set up with just that end in mind.
Billy Roper Added Nov 1, 2016 - 9:11pm
Jeanne, I'm sorry if my initial statement was unclear, I'm not a public school teacher any longer. People with my political views aren't allowed to do so, something which I accept and don't whine about, as it was a conscious decision I made. You're correct that some states do have laws instructing Electors to vote according to the majority in their state, but as you also mention, the laws and penalties have seldom been enforced, and are far from uniform.
Of course, many have stated that the Electoral college may be radically shifted towards favoring Democratic candidates if a large number of illegal immigrants are granted amnesty or given a pathway to citizenship, as those newly counted Americans would create new, heavily Democratic congressional districts by increasing their states' official population, and therefore create an equal number of Democratic Electors, making currently "red" states such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona "blue" forever.
Billy Roper Added Nov 1, 2016 - 9:12pm
Ryan, I also support limiting the franchise, but I'm sure everyone here is well aware that citizenship tests as a voting requirement, as well as literacy tests, were outlawed as being racist, for much the same reason that voter ID laws are labeled as such, today.
Billy Roper Added Nov 1, 2016 - 10:15pm
Kind of like our Founding Fathers specifically intended, and stated by law, yes. Hate it or not, their intent with the Naturalization Act of 1790 is clear.
But let's try to keep this discussion on the Electoral College, please? I'd appreciate it.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 7:54am
Wendy, that's funny. I have some sick moves, for sure. When I used to drink, Tequila was one of my go-tos. Not just Cuervo, but that darn Dos Gusanos. LOL. I don't partake any more, though.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 7:58am
Jeanne, We will see, but even with this election, due to the growing Hispanic population, Texas is a tighter race than it was in the past. Imagine if there are another million or two new Mexican "citizens" made eligible to vote there.
I would have said that no Electors would vote against the candidate who wins in their state, except that both parties are bitterly divided. I could see a scenario where a Republican appointed Elector pulls a Kasich and  refuses to pass their vote for Trump, even if he wins their state.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 8:02am
The difference in state selection processes and party rules can be bewildering. Usually, political parties nominate Electors at their state party conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the party's central committee. The Electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the Presidential candidates. But, anybody in the state party can be nominated. So, a wild card who isn't loyal to the nominee could get in, and queer things.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 8:04am
Michael, one of the schools I taught at was like a mixture of Hee Haw and Soul Train, but I tried to keep things lively and interesting for those who wanted to learn. We held mock elections in the classroom, and the Electoral College vote came closer to causing fights than anything in the process, even the debates.
Bill Kamps Added Nov 2, 2016 - 8:32am
Jeanne, or Billy are all states winner take all ?  or in theory could the electors split their votes ?  why is that not generally done when a state is almost evenly divided ?
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 9:07am
Bill, two states are not winner take all. Nebraska and Maine do not follow the winner-takes-all rule. In those states, there could be a split of Electoral votes among candidates through the state's system for proportional allocation of votes. For example, Maine has four Electoral votes and two Congressional districts, and of course two senators, so if one candidate wins one district and the other candidate the other, the four votes SHOULD be split, 2 to one candidate, and 2 to the other. But it's not even that simple. These states allocate two Electoral Votes to the popular vote winner, and then one each to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district (2 in Maine, 3 in Nebraska) in their state. This creates multiple popular vote contests in these states, which could lead to a split Electoral Vote. The popular vote winner of a state must win at least one of the districts. That's why you cannot assign all the district Electoral Votes to the losing party in the state. Note that since these rules were adapted, Maine has never split its Electoral Votes. However, in 2008, Nebraska did for the first time, as Barack Obama won the 2nd Congressional District (Omaha and its suburbs), gaining a Democratic Electoral Vote in Nebraska for the first time since 1964.
As to why other states don't, I guess you could say it reflects the spoils system attitude of "all or nothing".
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 9:16am
Here's an interesting website with a game you can play to see how past elections would have turned out differently by using a majority or proportional vote allotment by Congressional district, rather than a "winner take all" system.
As an alternate history author, I found it fascinating.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 11:49am
The best teachers can inspire kids like that, and get them, as the "youths" say, 'woke'. I tried to be engaging and get them to question authority, and the mainstream propaganda they were spoon-fed, rather than just trudging through the textbook. Along with the mock elections, we did war reenactments to illustrate how the entangling alliance system led to W.W. I, and how the reparations and land divisions and Versailles Treaty from THAT led to W.W. II. They enjoyed that. The school was about 60/30/10 black, White, and Hispanic, so you can imagine how fun the Civil War unit was.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 12:09pm
Yep, short segments of movies, about ten minutes long, no more, of action scenes showing battles. Reading the chapter summary and high points. Role playing. Exhibits and displays. They hold kids attention better. But every year those attention spans get shorter and more shallow. I'm glad I'm not a glorified baby-sitter any more, frankly, Michael. The days of having twenty year old tenth grade youths throwing their desks at me at hooting like a pack of lowland gorillas is over.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 12:45pm
Over the last month, I've had people contact me whom I haven't heard from in years, wanting to network and get together in case SHTF. I'm trying to be the voice of reason and moderation, but a lot of people are anxious. These are people who dropped out of the movement a long time ago, hopping back in.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 4:46pm
I can think of a lot of women who would make better Presidential candidates than either of the two people who are in the running, but the fact is that many people are determined to vote for her simply because she is a woman, even if she is under felony criminal investigation, has been caught in more blatant lies than any other candidate, and is the most disliked and distrusted political figure of the last fifty years. I just hope that she wins, if only through the Electoral College and not the popular vote, because her Supreme Court appointments and Executive Orders would result in a flood of new illegal immigrants responding to her amnesty programs, an erosion of the first amendment frustrating people's illusion of freedom and steam pressure release valve it gives them, and an assault on the second amendment which would have millions of Americans saying that she may not be coming to their house for dinner, but if she sends people out to confiscate guns, they'd better bring plenty of body bags. Altogether, Hillary would bring about the balkanization faster, even without the war she'd probably cause with Russia, that Trump, who would give people a renewed false sense of security and complacency, prolonging the inevitable.
In terms of the Electoral College, here's a left-wing article about red states turning blue which does NOT factor in millions more Hispanic voters that would be added in under Hillary:
I can tell you that my narrative will be a lot easier to push with Hillary in the White House.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 6:29pm
Jeanne, considering your history and experience on the nexxus of activist politics, this most recent evolution of the political sphere might be amusing to you: New interview done today....
This new NPR article demonstrates how the Presidency could be won with just 23% of the popular vote.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 8:17pm
Jeanne, I wish that I could on the air in about an hour and make a prognostication on how I think things are going to go next Tuesday, especially since this will be my last The Roper Report podcast before the election. But, right now, I just couldn't call it.
Billy Roper Added Nov 2, 2016 - 10:55pm
I just got a couple of phone calls, right after the show. Don't worry so much. Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright. ;->
Look for an announcement right before the election that may make things less...up in the air, so to speak.
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 8:21am
Thank you! I know that the election is the top thing of many people's minds now and for the next few days, so I felt like the Electoral College was one aspect of it that was least understood. This article is pretty good, too:
Bill Kamps Added Nov 3, 2016 - 10:29am
Lynn, interestingly the results of the election matter, but not in the way most people think.  The biggest impact of who wins the Presidency is likely not on spending or domestic policy, that is largely controlled by Congress, the President can only weigh in on its preferences.  So regardless of how many  new spending programs a President promises, it all has to go through Congress, and typically only a tiny fraction of the promises get approved.  This makes a two year, billion dollar election cycle largely a waste of time.
The biggest impact is on the Supreme Court, because the President gets to choose new judges as old ones retire.  Liberal President means more liberal court, and the reverse.  This usually has impact long after the President is gone. 
The second biggest impact is on discretionary foreign policy.  For example, the President can send a few troops into Syria as "advisors", and they can drop a few bombs on ISIS, they can meddle in the Ukraine elections, and so on.  These things can be hidden in Defense Dept budgets.  However, when the spending gets large, like an invasion of Iraq, then Congress needs to approve the spending, which is a lot more difficult.
Big changes in the direction of the country are difficult because the Constitution is pretty tight, and difficult to change.  So unlike Venezuela or Turkey, the President cant just decide to stay in office, or cant just decide to fire the Supreme Court and replace everyone.
Generally speaking the Electoral voting works as it should.  Maybe Billy or Jeanne know, but I dont know of a case where the voters voted against the popular vote in the state, and broke the law.  In the US as least so far, tradition does matter, and so despite what you see on the internet Obama is not planning on just staying in the White House, and it is unlikely in the extreme that we will need tanks to remove him from office.
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 10:36am
For those who were watching the final World Series game, or the CMA Awards, or David Duke's debate last night, and missed my radio show, here is the recording. It's okay, you're forgiven:
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 10:54am
"Faithless Electors" are members of the Electoral College who, for whatever reason, do not vote for their party's designated candidate.
Since the founding of the Electoral College, there have been 157 faithless electors. 71 of these votes were changed because the original candidate died before the day on which the Electoral College cast its votes. Three of the votes were not cast at all as three electors chose to abstain from casting their electoral vote for any candidate. The other 82 electoral votes were changed on the personal initiative of the elector.
Sometimes electors change their votes in large groups, such as when 23 Virginia electors acted together in 1836. Many times, however, these electors stood alone in their decisions. As of the 2004 election, no elector has changed the outcome of an election by voting against his or her party’s designated candidate.
Despite these 157 faithless votes, and a Supreme Court ruling allowing states to empower political parties to require formal pledges from presidential electors (Ray v. Blair, 343 US 214), 21 states still do not require their members of the Electoral College to vote for their party's designated candidate.
There are 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) that require faithfulness issue a small variety of rarely enforced punishments for faithless electors, including fines and misdemeanors.
Here are the names, dates, and stories of the 156 faithless votes:
2004 - Anonymous (Democrat, Minnesota)
An unknown elector from Minnesota, pledged to vote for Democrat John Kerry, cast a presidential vote instead for Kerry’s running mate John Edwards (the elector also cast his or her vice presidential vote for Edwards). One Minnesota elector, who believed the Edwards vote must have been a mistake, said, "I'm certainly glad the Electoral College isn't separated by one vote."
2000 - Barbara Lett-Simmons (Democrat, District of Columbia)
Barbara Lett-Simmons, a Democratic elector from the District of Columbia, did not cast her vote in order to protest the lack of congressional representation for Washington, DC. Lett-Simmons was the first elector to abstain from voting since 1832. Her abstention did not affect the outcome of the election.
1988 - Margaret Leach (Democrat, West Virginia)
Margaret Leach, a nurse from Huntington, WV, was pledged to the Democratic Party. During the Electoral College process, Leach learned that members of the Electoral College were not required to vote for the candidates to whom they were pledged, whereupon she decided to draw more attention to the situation by switching her votes for president and vice president.  She cast her presidential vote for Lloyd Bentsen, the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, and cast her vice presidential vote for Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential candidate.
Leach tried to get other electors to join her, but hers remained the only unexpected vote.
1976 - Mike Padden (Republican, Washington)
Mike Padden, a lawyer from Spokane, WA, was pledged to vote for Gerald Ford, the 1976 Republican candidate for president.  Instead Padden voted for Ronald Reagan, who had run in the Republican primary and lost.  For vice president he voted for Robert Dole, Gerald Ford's running mate.
1972 - Roger L. MacBride (Republican, Virginia)
Roger L. MacBride was pledged to the Republican party of Virginia.  However, in the 1972 election, MacBride did not cast his electoral vote for Richard Nixon, the Republican presidential candidate, but for John Hospers, the Libertarian presidential candidate.
He also cast his vice presidential vote for Toni Nathan, the Libertarian vice presidential candidate, (making Nathan the first woman to receive an electoral vote). MacBride ran as the Libertarian candidate for president in the next election but did not receive any electoral votes.
1968 - Dr. Lloyd W. Bailey (Republican, North Carolina)
Dr. Lloyd W. Bailey was an elector for the Republican Party of North Carolina.  He did not vote for Richard Nixon however, but for George Wallace, the presidential candidate for the American Independence Party. (Wallace received a total of 46 electoral votes).
Bailey claimed that Nixon had done some things that displeased him (like appointing Henry Kissinger and Daniel Moynihan) and so he decided not to vote for him.  He also protested that he had never signed a pledge promising to vote for any particular candidate and that his vote for Wallace was justified because Wallace was the winner in Bailey’s district.
Bailey later admitted at a Senate hearing that he would have voted for Richard Nixon if his vote would have altered the outcome of the election.
1960 - Henry D. Irwin (Republican, Oklahoma)
Henry D. Irwin, a Republican elector from Oklahoma, was originally pledged to Richard Nixon. Irwin later admitte
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 10:57am
at a Senate hearing that he would have voted for Richard Nixon if his vote would have altered the outcome of the election.
1960 - Henry D. Irwin (Republican, Oklahoma)
Henry D. Irwin, a Republican elector from Oklahoma, was originally pledged to Richard Nixon. Irwin later admitted in an interview with CBS that he "could not stomach" Nixon. He tried to convince the Democratic and Republican electors to reject both Kennedy and Nixon as presidential candidates. His choice replacement was a combination of two conservative senators:  Harry F. Byrd of Virginia and Barry Goldwater of Arizona. In fact, he sent out telegrams to the other electors.
One telegram sent to the 218 Republican electors read:
"I am Oklahoma Republican elector. The Republican electors cannot deny the election to Kennedy. Sufficient conservative Democratic electors available to deny labor Socialist nominee. Would you consider Byrd President, Goldwater Vice President, or wire any acceptable substitute. All replies strict confidence."
Irwin received several replies (about 40) from other electors but he was the only one to vote against his designated party. He cast his electoral votes for Byrd and Goldwater.
In the same election 14 unpledged electors (eight from Mississippi and six from Alabama) cast their presidential votes for Harry Byrd.  All 14 also voted for Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina as vice president.
1956 - W. F. Turner (Democrat, Alabama)
W.F. Turner, a Democratic elector from Alabama, voted for Walter Burgwyn Jones instead of the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson.  Jones was formerly a circuit court judge from Turner’s hometown.
1948 - Preston Parks (Democrat, Tennessee)
Preston Parks was a member of Tennessee’s Democratic Party.  He was appointed as one of their state electors early in the election year. Before the election, members of the Democratic Party split off and formed the States Rights party.
Parks vowed before the election to vote for Senator Strom Thurmond, the States Rights Party candidate instead of Harry Truman. Another elector also made the same pledge but ended up voting for Truman.
Thurmond, who gathered less than 3% of the popular vote, received a total of 39 electoral votes. These votes came from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
1912 - Eight Republican Electors
In 1912, Republican Vice Presidential candidate James S. Sherman died before the election. He was President William Howard Taft's vice president and they were both running for re-election.
Eight Republican electors had pledged their votes to him but voted for Nicholas Murray Butler instead.
1896 - Four People's Party Electors
In 1896, two parties, the Democratic Party and the People’s Party, ran William Jennings Bryan as their presidential candidate.  The two parties, though they shared a presidential candidate, nominated different candidates for vice president. The Democratic Party nominated Arthur Sewall and the People’s Party nominated Thomas Watson.
The People’s Party won 31 electoral votes but four of those electors voted with the Democratic ticket, supporting Bryan as president and Sewall as vice president.
1872 - Sixty-three Democratic Electors
The Democratic Party nominated Horace Greeley for President in 1872. However, Greeley died after the November election but before the Electoral College had cast their votes. 63 of the 66 Democratic Electors refused to give their votes to a deceased candidate. 17 of these 63 Electors abstained from voting. The other 43 Electors split their votes among three other Democratic candidates.
1836 - Twenty-three Democratic Electors
The Democratic Party nominated Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky as their vice presidential candidate. The 23 electors from Virginia refused to support Johnson with their votes upon learning of the allegation that he had lived with an African American woman.
With these 23 votes missing, there was no majority in the Electoral College and the decision was deferred to the Senate. In the end, the Senate voted for Johnson as the vice president.
1832 - Thirty-two Democratic Electors (Pennsylvania, Maryland)
Two National Republican Party electors from the state of Maryland refused to vote for presidential candidate Henry Clay, not voting against Clay but abstaining completely.
In the same year, all 30 electors from Pennsylvania refused to support the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Martin Van Buren, voting instead for William Wilkins.
Despite the loss of the 30 votes from Pennsylvania, Martin Van Buren was elected as the vice president. Andrew Jackson was elected as the president, receiving over 75% of the electoral votes.
1828 - Seven Democrat
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 10:58am
1828 - Seven Democratic Electors (Georgia)
In this election, seven out of the nine electors from Georgia refused to vote for vice presidential candidate John Calhoun. All seven cast their vice presidential votes for William Smith instead. Andrew Jackson won his re-election, with John Calhoun as his vice president.
1820 - William Plummer, Sr. (Democratic-Republican, New Hampshire)
William Plummer, Sr. was pledged to vote for Democratic-Republican candidate James Monroe. Instead, he cast his vote for John Quincy Adams, also of the Democratic-Republican Party, although Adams was not a candidate in the 1820 election.
Supposedly, Plummer did not feel that the Electoral College should unanimously elect any president other than George Washington.
Other than three electors who did not cast votes, Plummer’s vote for Adams was the only vote not cast for Monroe.
1812 - Three Federalist Electors
Three electors of the Federalist Party refused to cast their votes for Federalist vice presidential candidate Jared Ingersoll. All three voted instead for Elbridge Gerry, the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic-Republican Party.
1808 - Six Democratic-Republican Electors
Six electors from the Democratic-Republican Party refused to support James Madison, their party’s candidate for president. Instead, all three voted for George Clinton, the Democratic-Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, for president.
1796 - Samuel Miles (Federalist, Pennsylvania)
Samuel Miles, of Pennsylvania, was the first elector to break a pledge to vote for a specific candidate. Miles had promised to vote for Federalist candidate John Adams, but instead cast a ballot for Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson.
While Miles did not affect the outcome of the election—Jefferson still lost by three electoral votes—his decision still earns him a dubious spot in the history votes, and the ire of many Pennsylvanians as the following letter, published in the Gazette of the United States, attests: "What, do I choose Samuel Miles to determine for me whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferson shall be president? No! I choose him to act, not to think."
Bill Kamps Added Nov 3, 2016 - 11:19am
Billy, thanks for the information. 
Obviously not a fool-proof process.
Bill Kamps Added Nov 3, 2016 - 11:54am
John, we have a lot of old laws that are relics of how things were set up originally, and they are not easy to change.  Most times they dont matter, or change the outcome, but sometimes ....
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 3, 2016 - 8:03pm
Good post. Electoral college prevents the very populated areas of the East and West Coasts from single-handed electing every president.
It weights the wishes of less populated states against the higher populated states.
Without it, each election, the presidential candidates would campaign in California and New England (and maybe Florida). That's it because that's all they'd need to get elected. 
In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college. Having said that, apparently in hindsight, he won the overall vote in Florida. Had they done the state-wide recount which they just decided to do when Supreme Court ruled that their time was up and since they couldn't reach a decision, the original count stood.
The 3 counties that Gore contested though, according to the defined criteria of the recounts prior to the election, Bush won those. (But there is even a caveat to that because some many voters in those counties got confused and cast a vote for Buchanan but wrote in GORE at the bottom, that would be a wasted vote because it was cast for 2 different candidates when it's pretty obvious that the intent was to vote for GORE. If the ones like that were counted as GORE votes, he would have won those 3 contested counties.)
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 8:31pm
Patrick, excellent comment, thank you. I've been busy most of the day with media; a CNN telephone interview that they may or may not use during their rotation, about the possibility of post-election violence (it was a short conversation, who knows how much they'll keep) and some questions trough e-mail from yet another HBO documentary, that won't be made until after the election. Then I had to bring a load of cedar shavings and layer them into the henhouse for chickens an attach a heavy wooden headboard to the master bedroom bed, which led to re-arranging the whole room. But anyway, I'm back online for a bit until The Divine Truth radio show we'll podcast out at 9 PM EST.
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 9:52pm
Oh, I'm just the co-host on this one, I do 5-10 minutes of news commentary and then he takes over for the sermon. I'm just listening and managing the chat room now. Wouldn't it be interesting if Hillary won through the electoral college, then was impeached, and had to resign or was removed, and Beta cuck Tim Kaine became POTUS? LOL
Billy Roper Added Nov 3, 2016 - 11:42pm
Nah, I respect your opinion, and do not delete anybody's comments, ever. It's my free speech policy. Have a good night.
Bill Kamps Added Nov 4, 2016 - 8:04am
Patrick, the Florida recount demonstrated the problem with paper ballots.  There are lots of ambiguous votes, and many  are subject to interpretation on voter intent, so in a close vote, the results are truly unclear. 
Unfortunately our government is still not competent enough to come up with electronic voting that cant be hacked.  Security exchanges trade billions of dollars of securities every day without being hacked, but our government cant spec out electronic voting correctly, so that our voting process can enter the 1990s. 
Billy Roper Added Nov 4, 2016 - 9:24am
Bill, I have to agree with you. I had a few follow-up points about the probable effect of the election on changing the Electoral College, in function if not form, which morphed into a separate article that I am posting on its own.
Bill Kamps Added Nov 4, 2016 - 10:57am
Billy I will look for it.
Given that in any state its possible a million votes will be cast, it is not possible with paper ballots to replicate the count exactly.  If we count the ballots twice, we will likely get two slightly different results.  The Florida recount demonstrates that recounting by hand makes this worse not better.  Anyone, try counting 1000 pieces of paper by hand multiple times and see that to get exactly the same answer multiple times is very difficult.  Add in the problems of hanging chads, and other physical problems with paper ballots, make the number 20K per person counting instead of 1K,  and it is effectively impossible to get a precise count.   Do all the note taking you want, and sub divide the problem how you want, it is extremely difficult to get a reproducible count.
Therefore when results vary by less than a thousand out of a million, it is not possible to know the result with paper ballots. 
Billy Roper Added Nov 4, 2016 - 11:28am
My understanding of the metrics determining article ranking here on WB is still vague enough that the surges and falls seem capricious. This article was in the second tier of the top twenty and declining fast when I submitted the next one, then this one peaked, again. Ooops. I'm not trying to be a hog, folks, sorry.
Mark Klaers Added Nov 4, 2016 - 3:54pm
The only thing about this system I don't care for is the "winner take all" aspect. Let each district count individually and it MUST be based on the final count.
Billy Roper Added Nov 4, 2016 - 4:35pm
Mark, Yes, and if each Congressional district apportioned their own Electoral vote, there are far more 'red' or conservative districts than there are 'blue' districts. In the House there are 248 Republicans (including 1 Delegate), 192 Democrats (including 4 Delegates and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico), and one vacancy.
George N Romey Added Nov 4, 2016 - 4:58pm
This morning on the stair master at the gym I was watching the "I want to be a reporter when I grow up" crowd on MSNBC reporting that Clinton and Trump could end up at 269 each.  What happens then?  Does it go to the Senate for a decision?
Billy Roper Added Nov 4, 2016 - 5:39pm
George, If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, (270), the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. The Senate would elect the Vice President from the 2 Vice Presidential candidates with the most Electoral votes. Each Senator would cast one vote for Vice President. If the House of Representatives fails to elect a President by Inauguration Day, the Vice-President Elect serves as acting President until the deadlock is resolved in the House. 
Billy Roper Added Nov 5, 2016 - 11:42am
The Founders weren't concerned about a cliff hanger, they were concerned about mob rule. They formed a system legally designed to be a White republic (see the Naturalization Act of 1790), not a democracy.
Joe Chiang Added Nov 5, 2016 - 11:45am
I've been a little busy, what with my own campaign and teaching full time.  I am also a history major, but I am always being asked to teach math as I am also certified to tech that.  
I believe there are two pints that would fix our election system.  
1. Return the vote to property owners or at least tax payers.  This is how the Electoral College was set up to function, and all democratic elections for that matter.  Otherwise, elections boil down to the "have-nots" vote for the haves to give them money through the candidate that promises that outcome.  
Please note Sanders ran on the promises to give free everything as did Obama.  Hillary also promises lots of free.  The ancient Greeks pointed out that a democracy will end when the people learn they can vote themselves money from the public coffers.  This problem was anticipated for many centuries.  
2. The winner takes all needs to be eliminated.  One half of a large state's votes (51% to 49%) is more than many smaller states total vote.  This rule gives an unfair advantage and weighting of votes to the states with larger populations.  Just to take this election using names, the result is that it now takes 3 small states for Trump just to make up for 1/2 of one large state votes for Clinton; the 1/2 of the large state she did not actually win, but voted for Trump.  This is how the "Will of the People" can and is thwarted.
Billy Roper Added Nov 5, 2016 - 6:43pm
Ladies and Gentlemen, we now have our very first Electoral College Elector who has said that he will NOT vote for his party's candidate: A Bernie supporting Democrat from Washington State who has said that he will NOT vote for Hillary:
He's voting racially, and says that Hilary has not done enough to prove her loyalty to AmerIndians.
Billy Roper Added Nov 5, 2016 - 7:10pm
An Elector can vote for whomever they wish, or abstain from voting completely. My impression is that he will vote for Sanders. In any event, that's one less Electoral College vote for Hillary.
Billy Roper Added Nov 5, 2016 - 8:57pm
IT sure is. ;->
Billy Roper Added Nov 6, 2016 - 10:53am
New article on the Electoral College's role in this election:
Joe Chiang Added Nov 6, 2016 - 10:38pm
I'm voting for Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, a Christian Conservative Party.  He has the 1st or 2nd, depending on the poll, biggest polling of 3rd party candidates and Johnson is NOT higher.  Castle has no chance for more than maybe one electoral college vote, but what a signal that will send through BOTH major parties, both LIBERAL parties.
Mark Klaers Added Nov 9, 2016 - 5:34am
The Popular Vote and the Electoral College! Plus the House and Senate! Can you say Mandate?
Joe Chiang Added Nov 9, 2016 - 9:00pm
I didn't follow all of Trump's promises, but Forcing the Mexicans to pay for a wall is, in my opinion dubious.  That doesn't mean that said funding could not be negotiated.
Mark Hunter Added Nov 22, 2016 - 5:51am
A good and, as it turns out, timely article. For many years I've gone back and forth about whether the electoral college should continue, but I definitely understand its intention--as far too many don't. I never have liked the winner take all state concept, though.
Mark Klaers Added Nov 22, 2016 - 7:29am
I'm with you on that, Mr. Hunter. Only I want it to apply to all elections within each state...the governorship, senators and state supreme court justices.
Joe Chiang Added Nov 22, 2016 - 3:00pm
Mark, each state has within it election districts.  Each such district could provide a vote for their "statewide" candidates.  Then you have the non-winner take all electoral college state equivalent.  Just a thought.
Mark Hunter Added Nov 22, 2016 - 4:10pm
Thanks, Mark. Joe, that's a sensible and obvious idea, and so will never be implemented.
Joe Chiang Added Nov 22, 2016 - 4:12pm
Mark H, you obviously are a very intelligent man.  LOL
Mark Klaers Added Nov 22, 2016 - 5:01pm
Joe, for some reason I'm having a senior moment and am not sure I get the gist of what you're saying. Is it that you're saying you would have someone elected without a majority?
Anyway, if done like the national elections the state would get better representation rather than an extension of for example my state, Miami's politics.
Joe Chiang Added Nov 22, 2016 - 7:17pm
Mark K., I believe the election would be as fair as the local election districts in each state are fair. As in California, there is an attempt to gain a slight political advantage according to the boundaries of each district. However, that is a matter to be settled at the local and state level of politics. Each district should be about equal in size of the population. Therefore the districts should be very representative of the citizens voting in that district. The danger this protects all of us from is voter stupidity.
The advantage of such a system as was established originally by our founding fathers is the ability to change the vote according to what is best for the nation. Historically, there were no parties or campaigning. The college might vote for 6 or 8 candidates of their choosing. These were eventually digested down to 2 or 3 and then one winner with the runner up being the vice-President.
This may be advantageous even now if some candidate were to run and then be charged with and convicted of some crime. The college could vote for another candidate or someone who did not even run.