THE BUZZZ: Legal Column

The Buzzz… legal article

Dear Mr. Kendell JD, CPA:

Out of approximately 200 countries on the planet, why does the United State of America have an electoral college system that determines who becomes President, when all other countries use the popular vote? If we used the popular vote system wouldn’t Hiliary Clinton be our current President? Haven’t there been times when the electoral college was abandoned?

Cedric Ross:

This legal question involves our Constitution! A document designed to protect us from our government. Way, way back in the 1700’s our founding forefathers wanted an election system that didn’t turn our President into a dictator. They couldn’t decide on whether Congress should determine on who should be President or the people decide using a popular vote. They reached a compromise, the electoral college!

Every state has elected representatives and two senators. Thus, a large state such as Texas has 36 politicians elected to the house of representatives plus two senators, for a total of 38 electors. A state such as Vermont, with small population with two politicians in the House and two senators for a total of 4 electors. If a candidate wins Florida by the smallest of margins, (See George Bush), that candidate gets all the electors! 

A total of 535 electors and three for the district of Columbia leaves a total of 538 electors. A simple majority of 270 electors wins the most powerful job in the world! Awesome, hua? 

Without the electoral system Hiliary would be President. Yes! And the world would be a different planet. And this isn’t the first time! There have been other Presidents who didn’t get the popular vote but became President, i.e., John Qunicy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush and Donal Trump; all became President without a popular majority vote.

If the electoral college had never existed, Bob Dole would have become President, and it is likely the USA would have never invaded IRAQ. A very different world, indeed. There have been attempts to abandon the electoral college system. In 1816 there was a movement to ditch the electoral college, but the Southern states blocked it. In 1969 there was such a movement which passed the House but again was blocked by the Southern states.  Thus, the electoral college system is with us today. It would take an amendment to the Constitution to make the change. 

I hope this explanation gives you some clarity into the system that only exists in the USA. Is it good? Is it bad? That’s for you to decide! 

Do you have a legal question? Submit it.

Brent Lee Kendell, JD, CPA


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