US Presidential: The Electoral College, or when the winner does not...

US Presidential: The Electoral College, or when the winner does not...
US Presidential: The Electoral College, or when the winner does not...

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 2:11 PM

Washington – With just one week before the presidential poll, and with more than 67 million Americans already voting for their favorite candidate, the specter of the electoral college returns to hover over Uncle Sam’s country, casting doubt on the legitimacy of this bicentennial institution which sometimes transcends popular suffrage and sends a loser to the White House.

Indeed, in each state, American citizens vote for large voters, whose identity they do not know in the majority of cases, and not for one of the two presidential candidates, explains Thomas Neale, specialist of the American national government. within the research department of the Library of Congress.

Each state has as many voters as elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate, plus three who represent the federal capital, Washington DC, for a total of 538 voters, Neale said during an organized briefing by the Foreign Press Center in Washington. He noted that these large voters constitute the electoral college, which appoints the President of the United States.

The more the state is populated, the more it enjoys a significant number of electors. Thus, California benefits from 55 voters, Texas from 38, Florida and New York State from 29, and Pennsylvania from 20, he noted, recalling that it is possible for a candidate to winning the electoral college without being the winner of the popular vote.

This incidence has, in fact, occurred five times in American history, in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and more recently in 2016, when Donald gleaned 304 electoral votes while his opponent Hillary Clinton won nearly three million additional votes in direct national suffrage.

Despite the wave of indignation generated by this kind of result, nothing in the Constitution obliges the major voters to vote for one candidate or another, specified the expert, stressing nevertheless that, so far, almost all the big voters respected the results of the popular vote in their state.

It was during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that it was decided that the presidential election will be by indirect universal suffrage in a round, and this, in order to preserve the separation of power, recalled Mr. Neale, making note that the rejection of this widely controversial election system is complicated, despite the number of amendments that have been submitted to Congress calling for the removal of the Electoral College, “because it is very difficult to change the Constitution”.

Traditionally, grand voters meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December to elect the president and vice-president. For this 2020 election, the electoral college will choose for the Americans their next president on December 14, and it may not be the one with the most popular votes on November 3.

Faced with this state of affairs, the elections are often played out in a limited number of so-called “Swing States”, that is to say which regularly change sides from one election to another, sometimes voting for them. Democrats, sometimes for Republicans.

In 2016, Trump’s surprise victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with narrow margins, had allowed him to seal the race for the White House.

To run for a second term, Trump must win at least two of these three states, a task far from easy according to numerous recent polls which give his Democratic opponent Joe Biden a considerable lead.

In recent days, Trump has multiplied the rallies in Pennsylvania which he hopes to delight the 20 major voters to allow him to approach the fateful threshold of 270 voters to win the presidential election.

Biden, for his part, wants to create a surprise by attacking Florida, where he is neck and neck with Trump, or even North Carolina. A victory for the Democratic candidate in one of these two states would be synonymous with a coup de grace for his Republican rival.

According to many observers, the results of the presidential election should not be known until several days, or even weeks after November 3. But in the event that one of the two candidates is declared the winner quickly in the few pivotal states deciding the election, it will be possible to guess the identity of the next tenant of the White House.

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