What State Has The Least Electors? What It Means If You Live In One Of These Seven States
Ever since the ratification of the 12th Amendment in 1804, America has chosen its president and vice president using the Electoral College System we have in place today. The number of electoral votes each state has is determined by its population, and this can vary greatly. So what states have the least electors? There are currently seven out of 50 states that have this interesting distinction. It may seem like these states are at a disadvantage, but in fact the entire system is set up to protect the voice of these least populous states.
As we learned in class all those years ago (and most likely immediately forgot after the requisite quiz) the electoral college is made up of a total of 538 electors, including the three electoral college members for the District of Columbia as per the 23rd Amendment. In order to win the presidency, a candidate must gain a majority of 270 electoral votes out of the 538 up for grabs. If no party wins a majority of electoral votes, in accordance with the 12th amendment, a “contingent election” is held and the decision is made by Congress. Thanks to our two-party system, this has not occurred in nearly 200 years.
The number of electors per state falls anywhere from three to 55. The Constitution endows each state with two electoral votes for each of its Senators and an additional elector for every delegate it has sitting in the House of Representatives. In all but three states, the candidate to win the popular vote wins all the state's electoral votes as well; in essence creating 50 mini-elections. While states with the largest number of electoral votes at stake are clearly important, the electoral college system is set up to balance voting power across U.S. California has the most electors at 55, Texas has the second most at 38, and New York and Florida are tied at 29. However, even all these populous states combined cannot win an election under the electoral college system.
The states with the least number of electors include Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming with one elector for each of its congressional representatives. Additionally, D.C. is given three electors. These numbers may seem like small potatoes when compared to the likes of California, but there may actually be some interesting advatages to voting in one of these states. "On average, the electoral college benefits voters in small states, in the sense that an individual voter in a randomly-selected small state is more likely to have a decisive vote, compared to an individual voter in a randomly-selected large state," the Washington Monthly writes.
It seems like every four years the debate over the benefits and failings of electoral college system is reignited. While its critics believe that the electoral college robs the populace of its power (Trump has declared that the system is "rigged"), others believe that the electoral college is simply misunderstood and actually helps preserve the delicate balance of our democracy rather than undermine it. The election outcome typically matches the popular vote. No matter what state you rep, the important thing to do is get to your local polling station on Nov. 8!