What exactly is the electoral college?
It is a complex term that has been buzzing its way to headlines, new reports, and appearing across various social media platforms, but what is it exactly?
According to the National Archives and Records Administration, 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 citizens".
The electoral college is a process that is not always fully understood. After this recent election, the words electoral college began to appear across every possible media platform. Millennials became interested in learning more about the process to gain an insight after this past election. It was an election with so much going on all at once. There was so much hatred and I was disappointed by some of the comments that were made throughout the election.
I decided to investigate the electoral college and learn more about the terms, conditions, possible reforms, and learn WHY this process is still a part of the American Government system. This was the first election I was of age to participate in, but it is also the first election of my time that was covered non-stop. I could not even go a day without hearing about the election. In fact, the election is still being covered since President Trump officially took the oath of office on January 20, 2017.
The American people are trying to understand. The American people want to be heard. And as an American citizen, and also a future journalist, I felt it was necessary to investigate what exactly the electoral college is, and why it exists?
The Cardinal Spellman Philatelic Museum recently held an event with electors from the electoral college discussing the election and the electoral college with students and members of the local community in Weston, Massachusetts. This event occurred the night before the inauguration of President Trump. The electors included Nazda Alam and Joseph Mullin. Both electors represent the Democratic Party and have been involved in the electoral college for several years. Alam and Mullin both live in Weston.
Let's break down the electoral college into smaller fragments to help clarify what it is exactly. It is a process, designed to compromise the popular vote by the American people and a vote in Congress. There is a total of 528 electors and 270 electoral votes are needed in order to win the majority.
Each candidates has a group of electors supporting his or her campaign. This is usually through a party, but there are states that also have laws regarding how a elector can be picked. There are some states that have laws on who the electors can vote for. Presidential elections come every four years so when it comes time for you to vote for President, you are actually helping your state's electors. This is because when you vote for President, you are voting for that candidate's electors. States vary, but most States have a "winner-takes-all" system, which awards all electors to the winning candidate.
There is then the "Certificate of Ascertainment", which is a list composited of: "names of the Electors chosen by the voters and the number of voters received and the names of other candidates from Elector and the number of votes received".
The electors then meet after the election on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December. They then cast their votes for President and Vice President through secret ballots. The votes casted by your state's elector is then recorded on a "Certificate of Vote", which is then sent to Congress and National Archives. Congress counts on January 6th where the House and Senate meet in the House Chamber to count the official numbers. Then the results are announced and the President and Vice President elect are sworn into office.
I asked Alams and Mullin: Why is it such a push now to change? Do you think people are just upset to have President Trump win the election with no political experience, or do you think he upset Americans for not being politically correct?
Mullin replies "Yes and no", which is by far a politician's answer for sure. In his defense, the election upset Americans because President Trump won the electoral vote, but not the popular vote. Mullin believes that this upset the American people because most Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. The "no" remark was more of an answer that the electoral college has been a controversial topic for years. He mentioned that the President George Bush and Al Gore close race from a few years back that ended in a similar matter, with President George Bush winning the election.
A remark that stuck with me that Mullin stated was "The electoral college is something that is not always taught today in schools. After this election, people especially of your generation, are starting to understand and question why it is that this process is still the way it is. Alams agreed and the two began to talk about ways of reforming the electoral college.
So what is the best way for reform? Or better yet, why has the electoral college not been reformed?
This ranged from completely abolishing the electoral college system to modifying the rules depending on state population, etc. The main point is, that there needs to be a further discussion about the nature of the electoral college.
Based off of this election, my gut is telling me that something is going to be discussed. Something is probably going to change. And the future elections after the election of 2016 will never be the same.