How The US Electoral College System Works

There are 50 States in the United States of America, and each of those is allocated a number of electoral votes based on its Congressional Representation. There are 435 House of Representative seats and 100 Senatorial seats in the United States.

This means there are 535 Congressional Seats in the United States. A simple majority of that is 268 seats. However, for one to secure the US Presidency, they have to at least get 270 of the Electoral College vote. This is because there are 538 College Electoral College Votes in total.

Although the average allocation for a College electoral vote is about 565 166 people based on total population there are little states like Wyoming with about 540 000 people, but are allocated 3 Electoral College votes, meaning an average of about 178 000 people per vote, and that means a vote that is 3.18 times more valuable than an average American vote.

The clout of an American vote is however depended not on the number of electoral votes allocated to each state, but on where one lives. It is the swing states that carry the clout. These are states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Florida etc.

In 2016 campaigning took place in only 4 of the 50 States, with the rest considered Spectator States because the results in those states are generally predetermined as either for Democrats or for the Republicans. In US analytical electoral lexicon these secure states are called “spectator states”, implying they have a dormant say in the outcome of US elections.

48 of the 50 States in the US electoral system have a WINNER TAKE ALL policy, and that means whoever has the popular vote in that state takes all the allocated Electoral College votes.

Only the states of Nebraska and Maine have a split vote system. These two states allocate two votes to the winner with the most popular state vote, but they also give an electoral vote to each winner of the popular vote in each of the Congressional Districts in those states, and that is 2 districts for Maine and 3 Districts for Nebraska. This means its a two tier popular vote system for these two states, and as such it is not always a winner take all scenario, as we saw with Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016.

Obama won one electoral vote in Nebraska in 2008, and Trump also won one electoral vote in Maine in 2016.

I have taken into consideration the fact that most people’s reading attention span are low hence this attempt to shed light on the US Electoral system.

Article by Reason Wafawarova

Yeukai is a professional and experienced journalist, broadcaster & writer.

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