The rules of the American electoral system, which many see as ambiguous, are returning to the fore these days. Winning the presidency depends mainly on the votes of the electorate, even if it contravenes the results of the popular vote.
President Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 over his rival Hillary Clinton, despite getting nearly 3 million more votes than her Republican rival.
But Trump’s meager victory in critical states has crossed the necessary threshold of 270 votes for the electorate to win.
The 538 members of the electorate meet in their state capitals once every 4 years after the presidential elections to determine the winner, as the presidential candidate must obtain the absolute majority of the body’s votes, or 270 out of 538 votes.
The top electors in their states will meet on December 14th to choose a president and vice president.
Under US law, “they meet and vote on the first Monday, after the second Wednesday in December.”
On January 6, 2021, Congress will announce the president-elect to take the oath of office on January 20.
Suggestions for system modification
This system dates back to the Constitution of 1787, which defined the rules for presidential elections by indirect universal suffrage in one round.
The founding fathers of the United States saw in this a compromise between the election of a president by direct universal suffrage and his election by Congress, according to a system they considered undemocratic.
Over the decades, it submitted to Congress hundreds of proposals for amendments or the abolition of the electorate, but none of them passed, but the debate was renewed strongly after Trump’s victory.
It is noteworthy that the majority of the electorate is unknown to the electorate, and most of them are elected officials or party officials, but their names do not appear on the ballot papers.
Each state has as many electors as its representatives in the House of Representatives (according to the state’s population) and in the Senate (two for each state regardless of size).
The constitution gives states the freedom to determine the mechanism for selecting members of the commission. In all states except Nebraska and Maine, the candidate who wins the most votes gets the votes of all the major electors.
When Trump won 306 votes from the top electorate, millions of disaffected Americans signed a petition calling on major Republican voters to block him, but only two members responded.
Although Trump won the presidency despite losing the popular vote is questionable, it was not unprecedented, as he was preceded by five previous presidents.
The 2000 elections also witnessed great confusion between George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. With Gore winning by 500,000 votes at the national level, Bush succeeded in weighting the Florida vote, raising his share of the electorate to 271, which won him the presidency by one vote.
The constitution does not force the major voters to vote in one direction or another, as they can contradict the results of the popular vote for their states, and 180 members of the commission have done so throughout American history. Some states penalize the “dishonest” with a fine if they do so, but their vote remains in effect.
But this year, the Supreme Court ruled that states can punish major voters who abstain from voting, with laws compelling them to vote based on the outcome of that state’s popular vote.