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Understanding The Electoral College

Joshua Hurtado has been driving for Uber Eats since August 2018. Joshua has also graduated with an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studie

What is the Electoral College?

The Electoral College is how the United States elects its President.

One important point to keep in mind throughout our discussion is that while the term "democracy" is often used to describe the United States, the United States is not actually a democracy. The United States is a Republic. There is debate about what kind of Republic the United States is, but we will not get into that in this article.

This is important because the President is not elected by the popular vote, and there have been several times when the President lost the popular vote but won the election because they won the Electoral College.

How Are Electoral Votes Earned?

Electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who wins a majority of the popular vote in that state. For example, Candidate A and Candidate B are both running against each other in California which has 44 Electoral Votes. But, Candidate A wins 51% of the popular vote and Candidate B wins 49%, all 55 of those votes go to Candidate A and none go to Candidate B. This is called the "winner take all" system.

It is important to note that there are two states which do not use the "winner take all" system, and those are Nebraska and Maine. Nebraska and Maine split their Electoral Votes by Congressional District, meaning that Candidate A can win the Electoral Vote from one Congressional District by winning the majority of the popular vote in that District, and Candidate B can do the same in one of the other Districts.



How Many Electoral Votes Does Each State Get?

Each state gets a set amount of Electoral Votes based on the number of seats that state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. For instance, California has 53 seats in the House of Representatives as of the year 2020, and California also has two Senators, add the 53 Representatives with the two Senators and we get 55. This means that California gets 55 Electoral Votes.


Number of Electoral Votes By State

Source: https://state.1keydata.com/state-electoral-votes.php

State Number of Representatives + Two Senators For Each State= Number of Electoral Votes

Alabama

7 Reps + 2 Senators

9

Alaska

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

Arizona

9 Reps + 2 Senators

11

Arkansas

4 Reps + 2 Senators

6

California

53 Reps + 2 Senators

55

Colorado

7 Reps + 2 Senators

9

Connecticut

5 Reps + 2 Senators

7

Delaware

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

Florida

27 Reps + 2 Senators

29

Georgia

14 Reps + 2 Senators

16

Hawaii

2 Reps + 2 Senators

4

Idaho

2 Reps + 2 Senators

4

Illinois

18 Reps + 2 Senators

20

Indiana

9 Reps + 2 Senators

11

Iowa

4 Reps + 2 Senators

6

Kansas

4 Reps + 2 Senators

6

Kentucky

6 Reps + 2 Senators

8

Louisiana

6 Reps + 2 Senators

8

Maine

2 Reps + 2 Senators

4

Maryland

8 Reps + 2 Senators

10

Massachusetts

9 Reps + 2 Senators

11

MIchigan

14 Reps + 2 Senators

16

MInnesota

8 Reps + 2 Senators

10

Mississippi

4 Reps + 2 Senators

6

Missouri

8 Reps + 2 Senators

10

Montana

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

Nebraska

3 Reps + 2 Senators

5

Nevada

4 Reps + 2 Senators

6

New Hampshire

2 Reps + 2 Senators

4

New Jersey

12 Reps + 2 Senators

14

New Mexico

3 Reps + 2 Senators

5

New York

27 Reps + 2 Senators

29

North Carolina

13 Reps + 2 Senators

15

North Dakota

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

Ohio

16 Reps + 2 Senators

18

Oklahoma

5 Reps + 2 Senators

7

Oregon

5 Reps + 2 Senators

7

Pennsylvania

18 Reps + 2 Senators

20

Rhode ISland

2 Reps + 2 Senators

4

South Carolina

7 Reps + 2 Senators

9

South Dakota

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

Tennessee

9 Reps + 2 Senators

11

Texas

36 Reps + 2 Senators

38

Utah

4 Reps + 2 Senators

6

Vermont

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

Virginia

11 Reps + 2 Senators

13

Washington

10 Reps + 2 Senators

12

West Virginia

3 Reps + 2 Senators

5

Wisconson

8 Reps + 2 Senators

10

Wyoming

1 Rep + 2 Senators

3

District of Columbia

No Voting Members in Federal Government

3

How Does My Vote Affect the Electoral College?

There are a lot of people who do not realize how their vote influences the Electoral College. Most people think of the election of the President as a single national election. However, it is more accurate to say that the election of the President is based on the results of 50 different elections (one held in each state). This is because the winning candidate in each state wins the state and its Electoral Votes. When you cast your vote for President you are voting for an "Elector" who is pledged to support the candidate you are voting for.

Remember when we said that California gets 55 Electoral Votes? Well, Electors are the people who actually case the Electoral Votes. Each political party in each state selects individuals to be their Electors. So, if you vote for the Democratic Candidate, you are actually voting for your party's Electors ability to cast their votes for the Democratic Party Candidate. However, it is important to remember that only the candidate who wins the popular vote can receive the Electoral Votes. So, if the Republican Candidate only wins 49.9% of the vote and the Democratic Candidate wins 50.1% (aside from few exceptions) the Democratic Candidate gets all of the Electoral Votes because they won the state.

Why Are 270 Electoral Votes Needed to Win?

270 Electoral Votes are needed to win the Presidency because that is a simple majority of all the Electoral Votes. It is the fewest possible number of Electoral Votes a Candidate can receive and still with the Presidency.

I hope this article was able to answer some questions you may have, there are other possible scenarios that can play out due to the way the Electoral College works, but those warrant their own articles which I may write in the future. Hopefully, you now have a ground-level understanding of how the Electoral College works.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Joshua Hurtado