By Bobb Rousseau

Opinion Contributor  

Two categories of Americans vote in general elections: voters and electors. The former is the general population. The latter is selected by their state’s political party to trample the votes of the former. 

And among the state electors, three electors in Maine and 19 electors in Nebraska are the most crucial in deciding the voters’ next president. 

The American universal suffrage is based on the vote of 538 large voters, who elect the president for over 328 million Americans, who themselves also vote for the same president. This practice faces several challenges from academics, researchers, and political leaders who see it as undemocratic, given that it takes away the right of the majority to make their voice heard or to choose their president. 

To date, the Electoral College has managed to only elect two presidents who lost the popular votes. Both of these presidents were Republicans. 

As Articles I and II of the American Constitution of 1789 imply, Americans are so politically ignorant and overly impressionablethat it is a great danger to give the populace the authority to elect its president. Instead, this authority is conferred on 538 people— forming the Electoral College — whose votes prevail, supersede, or take precedence over the popular vote.

In simpler terms: majority rule does not apply in the American electoral system. 

A candidate who wins the popular vote but loses the voters’ vote will not be elected President of the United States. Conversely, the candidate who loses the popular vote, but wins the electoral vote, will be elected president. In short, the candidate who obtains the majority of the electoral vote (270) is the president, independently of the candidate who wins the popular vote. 

This happened in 2000 and 2016 when, respectively, George W. Bush won the election over Al Gore and Donald J. Trump over Hillary R. Clinton.

The number of electors varies from state to state, where each state is allocated a number of voters equal to the number of senators and representatives it has in the US Congress. U.S Congress is made up of 435 deputies and 100 senators. 

Although Washington, DC is not one of the fifty states and is not represented in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, it is allocated three electors in the presidential elections. The larger a state in terms of population, the more electors it has. For example, California is the most populous state in the USA. It has more representatives (53 deputies and two senators) in the United States Congress. Thus, it is granted 55 electors, while Alaska, the least populous state, is granted three electors because it is represented by only one deputy and two senators in Congress. Note that each state is represented by two Senators at the federal level. 

The Electoral College allows a candidate to win the presidency without obtaining an absolute majority. There are two systems of voting for the electors: Winner Takes All or Proportional Allocation. In all states except Nebraska, which has 19 electors,and Maine, which has five, the candidate who wins the popular vote wins the electoral vote. In these states, electors can choose to oppose the popular vote. The results of their votes will not be made public until the popular votes are tallied.

According to U.S. electoral mapping, 422 votes of large voters are pre-decided because in these states, either the Democrats (BLUE STATES) or the Republicans (RED STATES), have the majority. One hundred and sixteen (116) votes are undecided because:• The 24 electors in Maine and Nebraska will vote only after their residents have voted.• In five states — Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Ohio (18) and Colorado (9) — no political party has a visible majority. They are battleground states, which together represent 92 votes that decide the outcomes of the elections. For this reason, the candidates lean heavily on the demographics of these states to attract and guide voters and undecided electors.

Only 24 electoral votes out of 538 are at stakes in presidential elections. Thus, key states, with their 92 electoral votes, are not really the decisive states of the results of the presidential contests. That designation rests with Maine and Nebraska,whose 24 electoral votes are allocated proportionally to the candidates of their choice, independently of the choice of their residents. These states are so important because the electors are not bound to vote the way they pledge and are, therefore, under no obligation to vote for the party that selected them. 

The debates over the eliminating the Electoral College have not gotten too much media traction because its dissidents have not been doing a great job bringing it before the American people. There are Democrats who have not reached across the aisle on this to Republicans, for whom the Electoral College has been advantageous. 

Dr. Bobb RJJF Rousseau, Ph.D., is a law and public policy expert.

Letters and op-eds are subject to light editing for clarity and to meet The Haitian Times editorial guidelines.

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