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What is The Electoral College?

What is The Electoral College? - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

By Daniel Serna

On Wednesday Nov. 9 voters may be able to breathe a sigh of relief as the 45th President of The United States will hopefully be known. President Trump or Madame Clinton? Tonight is going be a historical night for America.

But before America elects a new president, what process do we employ when electing them?

Many voters believe we use the popular vote system in all elections which consist of every vote being counted and the candidate with the highest number of votes wins.

Contrary to that belief, The United States uses an electoral college made up of 538 electors to officially elect a President into office. The magic number for a candidate to be elected is to the presidency is 270.

“The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizen,” according to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Desiree Garza, a first-year student at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and registered voter, did not understand.

“I don’t know what the process is,” Garza. “I guess it’s voting through college, through your college, I don’t know.”

Another registered voter, student Rafael Villegas said, “When it comes to the electoral college I don’t have too much knowledge of it.”

Each state is allotted a certain number of electors based on population information from The U.S. Census Bureau records every ten years. States can gain, lose, or remain with the same number of electors.

Texas received four more electors based on the 2010 Census according to the NARA. The state of Texas holds 38, or seven percent of the total electoral college. The current Electoral College distribution has been in place since the 2012 presidential election and will be used for the 2020 presidential election.

In Texas, electors of both parties are chosen during the political party’s state convention. Texas has the second most electors in the nation, California holds the most with 55  and is historically a Democrat state. Texas is considered a Republican state.

Typically electors use the popular vote in their state as a guide to influence their vote. In most cases, electors choose the popular vote winner. Electors choosing to stray from the popular vote are known as “faithless electors.”

Though America generally finds out on election night who will be the next president, it does not become official until January 6 at 1 p.m. when the Vice President hears the votes from all 50 states and The District of Columbia; when the the count is finalized the Vice President announces the following American President.

If both candidates fail to receive 270 electoral votes or a tie ensues the House of Representatives is be held responsible for electing the president, which is called a contingent election. In all of the presidential elections held only two have been decided by The House of Representatives in 1800 and the other in 1824.

Go out and vote. Bexar County polls open at 7 a.m and close at 7 p.m. For more information on voting, visit the Bexar County Elections website. Curbside voting for voters with disabilities is available at all polling locations, please contact Bexar County Elections at (210)-335-VOTE for arrangements.

About the Author

Daniel Serna
Daniel E. Serna is a native of San Antonio. Raised on the West Side of San Antonio he graduated from the historical Thomas Jefferson High School. Daniel is a senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio majoring in the Communication-Media Studies program with a minor in English. One of Daniel’s passions is classic cars. He grew up helping at his father’s auto upholstery shop, Danny’s Classic Upholstery, that specializes in the interior restoration of classic cars.

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