Does The Popular Vote Matter?

Does The Popular Vote Matter

The National Popular Vote is an agreement among states which when it becomes active would make sure that whoever wins the popular votes would also win at the Electoral College. There have been grumblings among the electorate as regards the effect of the votes they cast In determining who wins elections. In this article, we will look at some of the concepts such as the electoral college, popular votes, and other allied matters.

Does the popular vote matter?

Yes, it does matter even though not in the way you may think. What this means is that when you vote for president, you are not actually voting for the president, you are instead voting for an elector who will then vote in your candidate of choice. These people are the Electoral College who then directly votes for the president. For instance, in the 2016 elections, President Trump only got 304 direct electoral votes which were a result of over 62 million indirect votes. 

In the case of most of the other American states, electoral votes are often allocated based on winner take for the indirect votes. Thus, if you reside in a state where one candidate gets 1 million votes and the second gets the same number of votes just one swing vote can break the tie. There are however some instances where our votes will not be counted. For instance, if you cast your vote by email and it arrives late, it won’t be voted except the election is close by.

There are also some other instances where one may feel that his or her votes are not counting. For instance, Republicans who voted for Donald Trump in California would probably feel their votes didn’t count because the majority of people in the state had a Democrat-leaning. This, however, should not discourage you because down party lines, there are democrats and republicans represented in the state legislature and congress.

What Is The Grouse With The Electoral College?

It should be noted that the Electoral College is seen as one of the most undemocratic components of the American government. This concept was originally inserted into the constitution to limit direct democracy. A lot of the people that created the constitution were not comfortable with the idea of the people having so much power and influence. They thus devised the Electoral College as a form of the democratic bypass.

It was also designed to shield the influence of the then slave states. In this situation, slaves were regarded as three-fifth of a normal person for Congressional representation. This thus gave Southern Slave states undue influence regarding who determines the president. The funny aspect of this is that this system seems to endure despite the abolition of slavery.

It is pertinent to note that the challenge associated with the Electoral College goes beyond its historical background. By giving so much power to Congressional delegations gives undue advantage to people in smaller states. For instance, voters in Wyoming seem to have almost four times the influence of voters in California.  Also, under the Electoral College, outcomes of elections often belittle the influence of popular votes. It is thus believed that the best solution would be to make changes to the constitution to scrap the Electoral College. So far, there have been over 700 efforts to scrap the Electoral College and none of them has been successful.

What Is The Rationale Behind Popular Votes And Electoral Votes?

Electoral votes are predicated upon the congressional representation of each of the states. This means that for each congressional seat comes an electoral vote.  Because the seats in the House of Representatives are pegged as 435 seats and Senate has 100 Members, the changes that occur as regards the electoral votes are often negligible. What this means is that the number of people for each electoral vote in a state is often quite different is often different from those of another. For instance, data from 2008 indicates that each state is given an electoral vote for every 565,000 people. But then Wyoming has three such votes even though it only has a population of 532,668 people. This thus means that each of its electoral votes equal to 177,556 people. This thus gives small states such as Wyoming an undue advantage over other larger states in the Electoral College system.

What Exactly Is The Electoral College?

The Electoral College takes its origin from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia back in 1787 where a group of electors was created. It was agreed that this body would have the final say as regards the leadership of the country. The implication of this is that during every election, the candidates often campaign from one state to the other to win both the popular votes and also the electoral votes. The elector number differs from one state to the other. For instance, Massachusetts has a total of 11 votes while Alabama has 9. What this means is that there are a total of 538 electors and the candidate that seeks to win has to aim for a minimum of 270 electors.

The majority of the states often award the electoral votes on a winner takes all basis thus meaning that the candidate who has the highest number of votes in a state will get the electoral votes in that state. Maine and Nebraska are the only states that do not apply the winner takes all principles. In their case, it is allocated proportionally instead. For instance, in the 2016 elections, Donald Trump won in all of the Southern States and some parts of the Midwest and this gave him 304 electoral votes. Even though Trump won at the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton won 3 million more popular votes than Donald Trump.

Who Verifies If A Person Is Eligible To Run For The Post Of President

Usually, the OFR at the NARA is the one that handles the Electoral College process and this occurs after the November elections. This person does not often have the authority required to take care of the issues about the general elections like the qualification of the candidate. Individuals who are concerned about this issue may contact their respective state election reps.

Because the process required for qualifying for the Presidential election is different from one state to the other, you must contact the top election official in your state for further clarification. More often than not, the Secretary of State is the one saddled with the responsibility of overseeing state elections.

What Is The Consequence Of Candidate Becoming Incapacitated Or Dies

There is no federal process outlined in a situation where a candidate that should get electoral votes dies between the time of the meeting of the electors and the general elections. Individual states may, however, their well spelled out requirements that determine how electors ought to vote during the meeting of the electors. For instance, when Greeley passed away in 1872 between the time of the general elections and the time of the electors meeting, the people who were to vote for Greeley instead voted for other candidates including Greeley himself. But the votes which were cast for Greeley have not counted because of a resolution by the House concerning the issue.

Is It Possible For A State To Vote For The Winner Of The National Popular Vote?

No clause in the constitution prevents a state from using something different from the popular vote results to appoint the electors. But the legislature of each state must determine the way electors get allocated to candidates. A state legislature may come up with legislation that could alter the way a Governor chooses its electors. Thus a state legislature could ask its electors to vote for a person who did not get a majority of the popular votes in the state.

What Is The Implication Of Two Candidates Tying In The Popular Votes?

This is a very remote possibility and only becomes known during November and December. If the votes are tied, the State Law would be the determinant of the procedure to adopt and follow to break the tie. For instance, after the elections in Virginia, it was discovered that one of the candidates was ahead by just two votes. Because of the closeness of the results, there was a recount and it was discovered that one of the votes was miscounted. When this was done, both candidates were tied on an equal number of votes. When this happened, lots were drawn for the candidates with each one putting their names on a piece of paper in a bowl. A neutral third person came to choose the name of the candidate. There may also be a run-off to decide who wins.


Popular votes do matter! This is however subject to certain factors as determined by the constitution of the states. This is why there have been moves to alter a number of these factors such as the electoral votes.

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