US President Chosen by Electors, Not Popular Vote

Americans vote for their next president

on November 6

but the real presidential election takes

place on December 17 and only 538 people

are involved this small group is called

the electoral college

but the US Constitution was forged in

1787 no European nation had its citizens

directly elect their head of state

lacking such a template the

Constitution's writers devised a

two-step system by which people would

cast ballots but their votes would be

conveyed to a small group the Electoral

College which meetings state-by-state

about a month after the popular vote

actually selects the president the

number of each state's electors is

explained by American University

professor Curtis Ganz those electors are

the number of the congressional

delegation in each state - for the

Senate and however many Representatives

and they are elected by winner-take-all

vote in the States except for two states

Nebraska and Maine which assign electors

proportionately according to the popular

vote in each congressional district

there are also three additional electors

representing the District of Columbia

for a total of 538 a simple majority of

270 produces a president but if no

candidate comes up with that the

Constitution provides for the House of

Representatives to select the next

president but that has not happened in

more than 200 years and while most

presidential elections have one

candidate winning both the majority of

the popular vote and the electoral

college an exception took place in 2000

Democrat Al Gore won the national

popular vote by more than a half million

ballots and had clear control of 266

electoral college votes but his

challenger Republican George W Bush led

by a tiny fraction in the state of

Florida gore demanded a partial recount

which Bush challenged all the way to the

Supreme Court more than a month after

the election the court sided with Bush

effectively awarding him Florida's 25

electoral votes and the white house both

parties are so entrenched in gaming the

current electoral college system that

George Mason University Professors

Dennis Johnson says he doesn't expect

any change the parties are kind of

looking over the strategy and looking

over the map and say you know for us


keep it the way it is winner take all

and he says the Democratic Party's

domination of the nation's cities means

the Republicans who are stronger in much

less populated rural areas aren't

inclined to support a change to election

by direct vote Jeffrey young VOA news