Voting in the United States is one of our guaranteed rights. These rights are spelled out very clearly – every United States Citizen has the right to cast a single vote within the state in which they reside.
Our electoral process is used throughout the world as the standard of how elections should be run. But the election of 2020 has cast shadows over our great process, and voters are now asking questions and expressing doubts about the integrity of the voting system.
We are going to look into how this all works and then suggest methods to prevent any fraud, entanglements, and security issues. No matter how sincere our voting pollsters are, they are human. So we must take into account their humanity when speaking about this. Even if you have a “foolproof” system, the human factor must be weighed.
So let’s begin at the beginning. Although this is made for young viewers, it is a great summation by USA.gov, which was put up on youtube. Please share it with your children to teach them the basics of our electoral process.
But we are not going to stop with this. This is just the basics. Now let’s look at the electoral college and why it exists. Why did they elect not to count up all the votes across the nation, add them up and call the winner? Let us see why.
So why was this put into place by the founding fathers?
In 1786, Alexander Hamilton, a lawyer, and politician from New York, called for a constitutional convention to discuss the laws to govern our land. The Confederation Congress, which in February 1787 endorsed the idea of a convention, invited all 13 states to send delegates to a meeting in Philadelphia.
On May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention opened in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence had been adopted 11 years earlier.
The delegates (who also became known as the “framers” of the Constitution) were a well-educated group that included merchants, farmers, bankers, and lawyers.
Among the many thorny questions debated by the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, one of the hardest to resolve was how to elect the president. The Founding Fathers debated for months. Some wanted Congress to pick the president, and others insistent on a democratic popular vote.
After months of arguing, a tired group of delegates came up with what they thought would be the best way to compromise the procedure. They established an electoral system we have today as the electoral college. However, the term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors” but not to the “electoral college.” The process was, in part, established as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and the election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
By September 1787, the convention’s five-member Committee of Style (Hamilton, Madison, William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, Governor Morris of New York, Rufus King of Massachusetts) had drafted the final text of the Constitution, which consisted of some 4,200 words. It establishes the electoral system — the reference to a college to describe the procedure came later.
Each of the states controls how their electoral college delegates are elected — let us look into how this is done. NASS is the National Association of Secretaries of State. They provide this link courtesy of their NASS.org website. It gives you the rules that each state has set up to elect its delegates.
Two methods are used to determine the winner.
In 48 of the 50 states, state laws mandate the winner of its statewide popular vote shall receive all of that state’s electors or another way of saying it — winner take all. However, in Maine and Nebraska, two electors are assigned in this manner, while the remaining electors are allocated based on the winner of votes in each of their congressional districts.
The procedure of election — Courtesy of the National Archives.gov
In most states, the political parties nominate slates of electors at State conventions or central committee meetings. Then the citizens of each State appoint the electors by popular vote in the statewide general election. However, State laws on the appointment of electors may vary.
Why is it called an Electoral College?
The Electoral College is the name given to the meeting of the state electors in the process of choosing the President of the US according to the Century Book of Facts.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, College is the ultimate of Latin origin; it is from the Latin name for “society,” collegium, which itself is from collega, meaning “colleague.” Essentially, a collegium—in both Latin and English—is a society of colleagues.
Let’s start where all of our rights are started — with the Constitution.
What the Constitution states concerning the election process.
Article I. Section 4
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
AMENDMENT XII. This Changed the Electoral Process slightly
Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.
Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. –]* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States. *Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.
Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude–
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.
Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
***The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, coordinates certain functions of the Electoral College between the States and Congress.