Every four years when election time rolls around, it can feel like you're re-learning how democracy and elections work. Middle school history class didn’t exactly stick in everyone's minds and just like memories of gym class, knowing what the Electoral College is and how it works, fades. In the wake of this interesting (to say the least) election, here’s a refresher on the Electoral College.
For starters, the Electoral College is a process, not a place. When you vote you are choosing your state’s electors because the candidate you vote for chooses the electors. The whole process includes selecting electors, the meeting where electors vote for president and vice president, and the counting of electoral votes.
So first, political parties in each state choose potential electors prior to the general election. The parties typically choose electors based on their dedication to the particular political party. Then, on Election Day voters select their state’s electors when they cast their vote for president. Finally, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the presidential election, a meeting of the electors takes place in their respective states. At this meeting they vote for president and vice president on separate ballots.
So why does the Roman Empire-inspired Electoral College still exist? In short, the creators of the constitution did not think direct democracy could work. Though this violates the one person, one vote rule that is arguably fundamental to democracy, we still rely on the Electoral College and their meeting to elect a president. So remember, when you go to the polls or fill out your absentee ballot, you are really voting for electors who will then decide who the next president will be. Don’t let this discourage you from voting though — despite the fact that your vote does not technically elect a presidential candidate, your vote means more electors for the political party you vote for.
So, even if you aren’t directly electing a presidential candidate, you are helping that candidate win. Now, get out there and Vote on November 8.
Photos: Getty (1), Giphy (2)