How the Electoral College Works
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How the Electoral College Works


Ah, Election Day, when Americans everywhere
cast their ballot for the next President of the United States. Except, not really – Americans don’t directly
vote for president. So, what’s happening on election day then?
It’s a bit complicated because of something called the Electoral College. To keep things simple for now, think of the
Electoral College as a collection of the 538 votes that determine who the President of
the United States will be. Why 538? Because that’s the number of Senators 100
plus the number of Representatives, 438 in Congress. Why are there 438 Representatives
in Congress? Stop asking so many question right now we’re
trying to keep this simple: These 538 votes in the Electoral College aren’t
given to the citizens directly, but are instead divided among the states. So how does the Electoral College give out
the votes? Each state, no matter how populous or not,
gets three votes to start. The remaining votes are given out roughly in proportion to the
population of the state. The more people the state has, the more votes it gets. Here is a map of the United States showing
the voting power each states has by making one hexagon equal to one electoral college
vote for president. Because electoral votes mostly – though
not completely – scale with population it’s also a map of where people live with a bonus
given to the smaller states to make them a bit bigger than they would otherwise be. In early November, when citizens go to the
polls they aren’t voting for president directly but they’re really telling their state how
they want *it* to use its electoral votes. 48 of the 50 states give all their electoral
college votes to the candidate who wins a majority in their state. Take Florida, for example, which has 29 electoral
college votes. If a candidate wins a majority, no matter how small that majority, he gets
all the votes. So the path to the Whitehouse is clear: win
enough majorities in enough states to get more than half of the Electoral college votes
and you get to sit at the big desk. That wasn’t so complicated, you say. Well, there were a few details left out: The Electoral College loves states, but what
about the 11 million Americans who don’t live in a state? What happens to their vote, and where are
these people hiding? There are about 600,000 in the District of
Columbia an area set aside specifically *not* to be a state so that the capital of the country
would be free of local politics. For most of the United States’ history people
living in the district didn’t get to vote for president. Then in 1964 the constitution
was amended to give D.C. the same number of votes as the least populous state, Wyoming. So the electoral college likes DC. But you
know who it doesn’t like? The Territories. The often forgotten Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S.
Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands, get no votes from the electoral college because
they aren’t states and they don’t have a special constitutional amendment to recognize them. Which is a bit odd considering they’re part
of the United States and everyone who lives there is a citizen so — for most practical
purposes — they’re just like D.C. And 4.4 Million people live in the territories
— that might not sound like a lot, but it’s than the populations of Wyoming, Vermont,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska & Delaware. Combined. But still, no votes from the Electoral College
do they get. The whole situation with territories is extra
strange when you consider the final group of Americans who don’t live in States, the
6.3 million Americans who live abroad. If you’re a United States citizen who moves
to a foreign country, you can usually send a postal vote to the last state that you resided
in. But, if you move *within the United States*
to one of its territories, you lose your right to vote for president for as long as you live
there – making these the only spots on the whole earth where Americans are not allowed
to vote for president. Actually, they’re the only spots in the whole
Universe because American astronauts are allowed to vote for space. The last bit of electoral college complication
is the weirdest and has to do with the votes themselves. The state of Florida — and all the others
— doesn’t really give votes to a candidate, that’s just a simplified way to think about
it, because the reality of the situation is… odd. What citizens are voting for on election day
is a group of electors appointed by the political parties who chose the president on the citizens’
behalf. The number of votes that a state gets from
the Electoral College is actually the number electors the state is allowed to send to a
collegiate meeting to vote on who the president will be. What makes it odd is that while these electors
promise they will vote for president as their state’s citizens want them to, *they aren’t
required to do so*. Electors are free to vote the way they want
. While this has never swung an election, 87 times in the past electors have voted against
the wishes of the very people who elected them. Why set up this crazy system where a small
group of people essentially unknown to the general public are the ones who really decide
on the president? Because in the 1700s — when the electoral
collage was designed — the quickest way to send a piece of information was to write it
on a piece of paper, hand it to a guy on a horse, wish him ‘godspeed, good sir’ and hope
he didn’t get killed by indians or die of dysentery along the way. Because information moved so slowly and because
the young country was so big, the idea was to send all the electors to Washington where
they could have the most up-to-date information to make decisions for the people back home
who wouldn’t know the latest news. Though now, when we carry information on beams
of light in fiber optic cables rather than on the backs of herd animals this particular
aspect of the electoral college might seem a little out of date. None the less, while most people think that
the election for president takes place in early november it doesn’t — that’s the election
that determines who the electors will be. The 538 electors who are chosen then meet
in early december and they cast the real votes that determine who is the next president of
the United States.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “How the Electoral College Works

  1. Without the Electoral college, 4 states would Control America. California, Texas, New York, And Florida. Our Founding Fathers were Very, Exceptionally SMART Men! Thank God!

  2. If there was no Electoral College, and the president was elected by popular vote, those voting in states like Arkansas, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont would never have a say in who was elected, and the candidates would never bother campaigning in those states. Every candidate would only focus on the states with the biggest populations, i.e. California, Texas, Florida, New York, Ohio, etc. Get the most votes from a handful of states with the most people, viola', you're president regardless of the fact that a majority of states voted against you. It would effectively allow the most populous states to elect the president and basically tell all of the other states what to do, via the White House and that president's policies.
    With the Electoral College, each states majority matters, albeit some more than others because some states have many more electoral votes. But it forces the candidates to campaign everywhere and take each state into consideration. A presidential candidate can win the west coast, the northeast, and part of the midwest, but still lose the election because the other candidate won everything else.
    Do NOT let those crying for the Electoral College to be abolished get their way…..unless you want the most populated states electing every single president from then on. Then your vote REALLY wouldn't count.

  3. By asserting that the electoral college is due to communication speeds, you are showing ignorance. It is about avoiding the tyranny of the majority.

  4. Florida can vote for who ever they want. In 1968 Nixon won the state but all the Electoral College gave all their votes to George Wallace. People can vote for just abot every office under the sun but not the president. The Electoral College was set up because only 5% of the people could read or right back then but my keeping the college through gerrymandering the people have no say in who will be their leader. Does this remind you of Russia where they vote for their leader by stuffing the ballot box. Just gerrymandering Russian Style.

  5. If we counted the popular vote instead of the electoral votes, we’d be called the United State of America not the United States of America

  6. Another important fact is that not all electors are allowed to go against their citizens vote. Most states have made it illegal for their electors to do this.

  7. what happens if the non-state did vote for the leaders how would you deal with these types of issues when your own members cannot familiarize on
    their own laws rule and system that is not fully updated

  8. Right~ when only reason for the electoral college was do to distance…… has nothing to do with making sure all state have a voice. Bias much?

  9. That's confusing in Australia everyone that's of voting age it's compulsory to vote put it in a ballot box votes are counted there we go new prime minister . And if you don't vote you receive a fine

  10. REMOVE the Electoral College Process – Every VOTE should count in a Presidential Election. This is not a State Issue, it is about Voters Rights and Representation. Boycott NRA who betrayed our country. #45* betrayed our country for money. Fake President, Fake Fear, Real Faith

  11. The reason why the reason the Electoral College still exist is so that's smaller States even if they don't have a big population can still have a saying in the election.

  12. The territories have had their chance at state hood and none of them want it. So they do not get to vote and are their own country….Stop lying….

  13. How the Electoral College works ? Very badly. In 2 of the last three elections the loser George Bush got 1 million lest votes but won, in 2016 Trump the orange ass hole, lost by over 3 million votes Of course the the orange idiot says fake votes but Trump really is a incompetent bastard. And if you do not like my views to bad

  14. And it's a dumb antiquated system that could really do with an update.

    That and first-past-the-post voting. Fuck that shit.

  15. This video completely misrepresents the purpose of the electoral college. It was not made because of 'snail mail' or rather 'horse mail'. The reason the electoral college was made was to provide a layer of safety to minority groups. Complete democracy would result in the majority always winning. This could result in a majority "bullying" a small group of people or minority, just so the minority could win every time. The founding fathers knew this, and thus created the electoral college. Instead of a president always winning by a slight or hard majority, the electoral college makes it so that if a minority is being “bullied” they have the chance to win the presidential election as well.

  16. The most alarming part is how few American voters actually understand how all this works. They actually believe citizens elect presidents. Which is laughable.

  17. .I don’t know why if a certain party’s popular vote is greater than the other all of the electoral votes go to that candidate. Why cants the elector votes just “split” or why did the round father make it so they could not “split”?

  18. Lmfaooo “killed by Indians” I think you meant Native Americans. Ignorant twat. Also there was no mention that people of color didn’t even have a vote. And when they did finally count, it’s was only 3/5. Mainly so privileged minorities could continue to own slaves, and not be rolled out by majority. Let’s continue this unequal representation to protect the smaller states “rights.”

  19. I guess the purpose of the people in the electorial collage being able to vote for who they want is to prevent like mob rule like most of the population could be crazy but the electorial collage still makes educated decisions of who is president

  20. So if democracy means ruled by the people and the electoral college electors are indeed people, so America is indeed a democracy. Yeayyyiii!
    I'm totally convinced now.

  21. Actually, the Founders created the Electoral College to protect the country and the people from pure democracy and majority rule.

  22. For all of American history, there have been territories, and if you move to one, then you give up your right to vote. That is as true now, as it was in 1789-1900. That's the breaks. On the other hand, the territories can always lobby to become a state (as have most of the states since the original 13). The electoral college was set up to balance the power of small population states against large population states. It was part of the compromise made during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. It had nothing to do with herd animals. That assertion is just dumb. Keep in mind that the Constitution was written during the time of the French Revolution where majority rule resulted in mass killings, the guillotine, and a complete breakdown of the rule of law. Our representative republic system is not a pure democracy, on purpose. It's not perfect, but it does preserve the rights of the whichever group is in the minority.

  23. Seems like the ability for an elected representative to vote counter to the wishes of his constituency has less to do with slow communication channels at the time of the founding and more to do with the fact that the masses are and have always been uninformed and gullible.

  24. Hey Mr Grey? Could you make a new explainer for how impeachment works in the United States? Can't be that much spicier than Brexit.

  25. Also you say that speed was the only reason for this system and it is not.

    The US government was only designed to be a confederation of states. The House was voted directly because they were supposed to be the people's voice in the confederation, the Senate was elected by the states to represent them and the electoral college were also elected by the states to elect the President indirectly as a compromise….they had to be private citizens but were elected by the legislatures, the legislatures then surrendered that authority to the parties.

  26. Then original American votes spent count much, even lesser value than a average democracy. Shame on americans those who say "America is great"

  27. The electoral college works as mitigation towards candidates swaying (for lack of a better term) unintelligent voters. It also means that they’re is mitigation against a tyrannical majority. Pure democracies (of which the us is not one) are entirely ruled by the majority and leave no ability for the minority to speak its voice.

  28. good system. this would have helped avoiding hitler, stalin, mao, mussolini, and many more. the greatest dictators have all been installed by the direct vote of the masses. most people are idiots. you need a safety valve.

  29. The electoral college itself isn't really the problem, the problem is how the votes are given. It should be given on a percentage basis for each state. Not a winner take all system. It basically means that if you live in a state that is always voting blue or red and you want to vote for the opposite party your vote effectively means nothing when considering the election of the President.

  30. The Electoral College was devised about 20 years after the formation of America.
    It was a fail safe to keep the Elites & wealthy in power.
    Republicans favorite the elite & wealthy of America.

    Republicans defend the Electoral College because their ideas are unpopular & they know if this was an actual Democracy they would never win a Federal Election.

  31. For a "college" you sure are short on facts.
    The Electoral College wasn't established in the 1700's.
    It was established in 1804.

  32. Republicuck Tool Kit:
    "Mobb Rule" Derp Derp
    "USA Is a Republic" DerpDerpDerp

    Cuckservatives love when the Derp State selects their Leader.

  33. What the purpose of a voting so basically a trying to say if they decide they want who they want to know if they'll take your vote and give it to that person shaking my damn head

  34. I have a presentation due tomorrow on should electoral college votes be eradicated. I don’t know anything, but your vid just helped me grasp the concept

  35. The territory’s don’t deserve anything as they are not American and people living outside of America shouldn’t get a vote either

  36. If we just changed the winner take all system of the Electoral College it would be soo much better. All the votes for the minority party up to 49.9% of total votes have zero representation in how the electoral votes are distributed. Splitting up the electoral votes by congressional districts isn't much of an improvement either, you're just throwing away half the states minority votes by section of the state instead of the entire state it's pretty much the same thing.

    Why not assign the electoral votes as equally as possible? If there's 2.2 million votes in a state for party A and 3.1 million for party B and the state has 5 votes why not give party A 2 and party B 3? Much more fair

  37. OK, I get it why this crazy system was set up in late 1700s, but why it is still being used today? It has no purpose in 21st century…

  38. So basically the elites buy out your senators and corrupt our republic. They also control the ratifying of laws and the money supply

  39. Territories don’t vote because they don’t pay federal taxes “no taxation, without representation” 87 defections over 200 years of having hundreds of electors is statistically inconsequential, Your vote does count in your state but allows small states to not get pushed around arbitrarily by urban elites because different states need different rules day to day

  40. Now I understand Americans who don’t vote! A candidate who gets most votes should be president, that’s how democracy works, imagine you lose an election because your senator didn’t like your candidate even though they got most votes! I wouldn’t vote either

  41. I have a lot of English Language learners that I want to show your video to, but you speak so fast. Is it to keep the videos short? Using the setting to slow down the playback speed makes the video just sound weird. 🙁

  42. So Screw Popular Vote, let the elites decied your leader for you!
    And American's vote thinking their vote makes a difference for President? Riiiight!?

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