Number the electoral votes allocated to each state.Source: USA.gov, “Presidential election Process,” usa.gov (accessed Nov. 18, 2016)

The dispute over the ongoing use of the Electoral college resurfaced throughout the 2016 presidential election, once Donald Trump shed the basic election to Hillary Clinton by over 2.8 million votes and also won the Electoral college by 74 votes. The official general election results show that Trump got 304 Electoral university votes and also 46.09% of the famous vote (62,984,825 votes), and Hillary Clinton received 227 Electoral college votes and 48.18% the the famous vote (65,853,516 votes). <1>

Prior to the 2016 election, there were four times in US background when a candidate winner the presidency regardless of losing the renowned vote: 1824 (John Quincy Adams end Andrew Jackson), 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland), and also 2000 (George W. Bush over Al Gore). <2>

The Electoral college was established in 1788 by post II the the us Constitution, which additionally established the executive branch that the us government, and was revised by the Twelfth revised (ratified June 15, 1804), the Fourteenth modification (ratified July 1868), and also the Twenty-Third amendment (ratified Mar. 29, 1961). Due to the fact that the procedure because that electing the chairman is component of the Constitution, a constitutional Amendment (which requires two-thirds approval in both residences of conference plus approval through 38 states) would certainly be required to abolish the Electoral College. <3> <4> <5> <6>

The founding Fathers developed the Electoral College together a compromise in between electing the president via a vote in Congress just or via a popular vote only. The Electoral college comprises 538 electors; every state is allowed one elector because that each Representative and also Senator (DC is enabled 3 electors as established by the Twenty-Third Amendment). <3> <4> <5> <6>

In every state, a group of electors is chosen by every political party. On election day, voters picking a presidential candidate space actually casting a poll for an elector. Most states usage the “winner-take-all” method, in which all electoral votes space awarded come the winner that the famous vote in that state. In Nebraska and Maine, the candidate the wins the state’s all at once popular vote receives 2 electors, and also one elector from each congressional district is apportioned come the renowned vote winner in that district. For a candidate to win the presidency, the or she must win at the very least 270 Electoral university votes. <3> <4> <5> <6>

At the very least 700 amendments have actually been suggest to change or abolish the Electoral College. <25>

On Monday Dec. 19, 2016, the electors in each state met to poll for President and also Vice chairman of the joined States. The the 538 Electoral university votes available, Donald J. Trump got 304 votes, Hillary Clinton got 227 votes, and also seven votes saw others: 3 for Colin Powell, one for confidence Spotted Eagle, one for man Kasich, one because that Ron Paul, and also one for Bernie Sanders). ~ above Dec. 22, 2016, the results were certified in every 50 states. On Jan. 6, 2017, a joint session of the united state Congress met come certify the election results and also Vice chairman Joe Biden, presiding together President of the Senate, read the certified poll tally. <21> <22>

A Sep. 2020 Gallup poll found 61% the Americans to be in favor of abolishing the Electoral College, increase 12 points from 2016. <24>For the 2020 election, electors poll on Dec. 14, and delivered the outcomes on Dec. 23. <23> on Jan. 6, 2021, Congress held a share session come certify the electoral college votes throughout which numerous Republican lawmakers objected to the results and also pro-Trump protesters stormed the us Capitol sending out Vice chairman Pence, lawmakers and staff to secure locations. The votes to be certified in the early hours of Jan. 7, 2021 by Vice chairman Pence, proclaiming Joe Biden the 46th united state President. Chairman Joe Biden was inaugurated v Vice president Kamala Harris top top Jan. 20, 2021. <26>

Should the United states Use the Electoral college in Presidential Elections?

Pro 1

The starting Fathers anchored the Electoral university in the united state Constitution due to the fact that they thought it was the best an approach to pick the president.

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Using electors instead of the famous vote was intended come safeguard versus uninformed or uneducated voters by placing the last decision in the hands of electors most likely to possess the information necessary to do the best decision; to protect against states with bigger populations from having undue influence; and to compromise in between electing the chairman by renowned vote and also letting Congress pick the president. <7> <8> <9>

According come Alexander Hamilton, the Electoral college is if “not perfect, the is at least excellent,” due to the fact that it ensured “that the office that President will never fall to the lot of any kind of man who is no in an eminent level endowed v the requisite qualifications.” <7>

The Founders wanted to balance the will of the populace versus the danger of “tyranny that the majority,” in i beg your pardon the voices of the masses can drown out decimal interests. <10>

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Pro 2

The Electoral college ensures the all components of the country are connected in selecting the chairman of the united States.

If the choice depended specifically on the renowned vote, then candidates might limit campaigning to heavily-populated areas or specific regions. To success the election, presidential candidates need electoral votes indigenous multiple regions and therefore they develop campaign platforms with a national focus, definition that the winner will certainly actually be serving the demands of the whole country.

Without the electoral college, groups such as Iowa farmers and also Ohio factory workers would be ignored in donate of pandering to metropolitan locations with greater population densities, leave rural areas and tiny towns marginalized. <11> <12> <13>

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Pro 3

The Electoral College assures certainty come the result of the presidential election.

If the choice were based upon popular vote, it would certainly be feasible for a candidate to receive the highest variety of popular votes without actually obtaining a majority. <11>

This happened with president Nixon in 1968 and also President Clinton in 1992, as soon as both males won the most electoral votes while receiving simply 43% the the well-known vote. <11> The existence of the Electoral college precluded calls for recounts or needs for run-off elections.

The electoral procedure can additionally create a bigger mandate to offer the president an ext credibility; because that example, chairman Obama received 51.3% of the renowned vote in 2012 however 61.7% that the electoral votes. <14> In 227 years, the winner the the renowned vote has actually lost the electoral vote only five times. <2> This proves the mechanism is working.

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Con 1

The factors the founding Fathers developed the Electoral College space no longer relevant.

Modern modern technology and politics parties permits voters to get important information to make educated decisions in a means that can not have been foreseen by the establishing Fathers. <23>

While Alexander Hamilton in 1788 saw the electors together being “free from any sinister bias,” members the the Electoral college are currently selected by the politics parties and also they room expected to vote along party lines regardless of their very own opinions around the candidates. <7> <4> <16>

Just as several voting regulations that restricted direct democracy in the Constitution have been amendment or discarded transparent history, so must the Electoral College. Together a result of constitution amendments, women and former servants were provided the right to vote, and also Senators, as soon as appointed by state legislatures, are now elected straight by famous vote. <15> The angry presidency was as soon as awarded come the runner up in electoral votes, but the procedure was adjusted over time to reflect the truth of elections. <17>

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Con 2

The Electoral College offers too lot power to "swing states" and enables the presidential choice to be determined by a grasp of states.

The two main political parties have the right to count on winning the electoral votes in details states, such as California because that the democratic Party and Indiana because that the Republican Party, without worrying about the actual well-known vote totals. Since of the Electoral College, presidential candidates only should pay fist to a minimal number of states that have the right to swing one way or the other. <18>

A Nov. 6, 2016 illustration of PBS NewsHour revealed the “Donald Trump and also Hillary Clinton have made more than 90% of their campaign stops in simply 11 so-called battleground states. That those visits, practically two-thirds took ar in the 4 battlegrounds with the many electoral votes — Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and also North Carolina.” <19>

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Con 3

The Electoral college ignores the will of the people.

There are over 300 million world in the joined States, but just 538 world decide who will it is in president. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the renowned vote by an ext than one million votes, yet still lost the election on electoral votes. <14>

Even president Donald Trump, who benefitted indigenous the system, proclaimed after the 2016 election that he to trust presidents need to be chosen by popular vote: “I would quite see it where you go with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.” <20>

Just as in 2000 as soon as George W. Bush received fewer nationwide renowned votes than Al Gore, Donald Trump will serve together the chairman of the united States regardless of being sustained by under Americans than his opponent. <2>

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Take Action

1. Listen to a Constitution facility podcast experimenting the pros and cons that the Electoral College.

2. Discover the Electoral university via the US nationwide Archives.

3. Think about the American Bar Association’s fact inspect on whether the Electoral College deserve to be abolished.

4. Consider how you felt about the issue prior to reading this article. After analysis the pros and also cons ~ above this topic, has your thinking changed? If so, how? List 2 to three ways. If her thoughts have not changed, list two to three methods your much better understanding that the “other side of the issue” now helps you much better argue her position.

5. Push for the position and policies you support by writing US nationwide senators and also representatives.


1.Kiersten Schmidt and also Wilson Andrews, "A Historic number of Electors Defected, and Most Were claimed to poll for Clinton,” nytimes.com, Dec. 19, 2016
2.Rachael Revesz, "Five Presidential Nominees who Won renowned Vote but Lost the Election," independent.co.uk, Nov. 16, 2016
3.National Archives and also Records Administration, "The 2016 Presidential Election," archives.gov (accessed Nov. 16, 2016)
4.National Archives and Records Administration, "About the Electors," archives.gov (accessed Nov. 16, 2016)
5.National Archives and also Records Administration, "Presidential choice Laws," archives.gov (accessed Nov. 16, 2016)
6.National Archives and also Records Administration, "What Is the Electoral College?," archives.gov (accessed Nov. 16, 2016)
7.Alexander Hamilton, "The Federalist Papers: No. 68 (The setting of Electing the President)," congress.gov, Mar. 14, 1788
8.Marc Schulman, "Why the Electoral College," historycentral.com (accessed Nov. 18, 2016)
9.Melissa Kelly, "Why did the starting Fathers develop Electors?," 712educators.about.com, Jan. 28, 2016
10.Hans A. Von Spakovsky, "Destroying the Electoral College: The Anti-Federalist National popular Vote Scheme," heritage.org, Oct. 27, 2011
11.Richard A. Posner, "In Defense the the Electoral College," slate.com, Nov. 12, 2012
12.Jarrett Stepman, "Why America offers Electoral College, Not famous Vote because that Presidential Election," cnsnews.com, Nov. 7, 2016
13.Gary Gregg, "Electoral college Keeps poll Fair," politico.com, Dec. 5, 2012
14.John Nichols, "Obama"s 3 Million Vote, Electoral university Landslide, bulk of states Mandate," thenation.com, Nov. 9, 2012
15.Joe Miller, "The reason for the Electoral College," factcheck.org, Feb. 11, 2008
16.William C. Kimberling, "The way of choosing Electors," uselectionatlas.org (accessed Nov. 18, 2016)
17.Sanford V. Levinson, "A common Interpretation: The 12th Amendment and also the Electoral College," blog.constitutioncenter.org, Nov. 17, 2016
18.Andrew Prokop, "Why the Electoral university Is the pure Worst, Explained," vox.com, Nov. 10, 2016
19.Sam Weber and also Laura Fong, "This mechanism Calls for famous Vote to identify Winner," pbs.org, Nov. 6, 2016
20.Leslie Stahl, "President-elect Trump speak to a Divided nation on 60 Minutes," cbsnews.com, Nov. 13, 2016
21.Lisa Lerer, "Clinton Wins famous Vote by practically 2.9 Million,” elections.ap.org, Dec. 22, 2016
22.Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell, "US conference Certifies Trump’s Electoral college Victory,” reuters.com, Jan. 6, 2017
23.Congressional research Service, "The Electoral College: A 2020 Presidential election Timeline," crsreports.congress.gov, Sep. 3, 2020

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Jonathen Easley, "Gallup: 61 Percent support Abolishing the Electoral College," thehill.com, Sep. 24, 2020
25. Fair Vote, "Past Attempts in ~ Reform," fairvote.org (accessed Oct. 1, 2020)
26.John Wagner, et al., "Pence Declares Biden Winner of the Presidential choice after Congress lastly Counts Electoral Votes," washingtonpost.com, Jan. 7, 2021