How Does A Candidate Win A State's Electoral Votes? It's Usually A Winner-Takes-All Process
The past few weeks have been tiring. Since Republican nominee Donald Trump became the president-elect on Nov. 8, it has seemed like the only thing we've heard much about are his proposed policies, his transition, and his cabinet picks. However, Green Party candidate Jill Stein challenged Trump's victory last week, raising the funds for a recount effort in several states. But ultimately, the Electoral College will be the one to formally elect the next president. So, how does a candidate win a state's electoral votes?
The 2016 election has been one of the most contested. In brief, the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee were the two most unfavorable candidates in U.S. history; however, Trump won the electoral votes necessary for an election night victory. Even so, in the weeks that followed, Hillary Clinton racked up a record number of votes, winning the popular vote by 2.3 million votes, at the time of this writing. The only thing keeping Clinton from the White House at this time are Trump's 306 electoral votes — compared to her 232. Candidates need 270 electoral votes to claim victory.
The Electoral College, made up of 538 total electors, will officially meet on Dec. 19 to cast their votes in the 2016 race.
All states have varied numbers of electoral votes that go to either candidate depending on the state's vote. In most of the country's 50 states, electors are determined on a winner-take-all basis, which means that the candidate who wins the state's popular vote will also take all of its electoral votes. The two remaining states, which are Nebraska and Maine, determine electoral votes on a proportional basis. This means the candidate's electoral votes are awarded in proportion to the popular vote — both candidates can win electors in these states.
Similarly, the process on how electors are allowed to vote when the Electoral College officially meets depends on the state. According to the Huffington Post, there are 27 states that have laws requiring the electoral votes to go to their party's candidate if that candidate won the majority of the state's vote.
However, one elector recently wrote for the Hill about the importance of voting their conscience, as well as the Constitutional right to do so when the time comes. They noted specifically, that "Donald Trump is unfit to be president," citing Alexander Hamilton's reasoning behind the founding of the Electoral College: "to prevent an unqualified demagogue who is under foreign influence."
There is no question that this election has been far from average, and while many prepare for what looks like a sure-fire Trump White House come January, some are still fighting as the Electoral College prepares to meet in the coming weeks. On Thursday, Change.org even announced that a petition addressed to the Electoral College and started by Daniel Brezenoff to "Make Hillary Clinton President on December 19" received the most signatures in its history. By Thursday, 4.7 million people had signed the petition to elect Clinton.
Perhaps the electoral votes — just like this election — will be determined in a way that we haven't seen before.