Is the Electoral College an actual college?
Not in the traditional sense with classes, dormitories, and beer-fueled rush weeks. In fact, the only real similarity between the two is that we’re often left questioning our choices several years later. Was it really worth it, or did we simply “go with the flow,” perpetuating outdated systems and institutions? Did our choices not only reflect our needs at the time but our ever-evolving conditions? And what were we thinking? Minoring in Menonite Fashions? Writing in David Hasselhoff for president?
Ok, then why do we call it a “college”?
You can thank the Founding Fathers who loved the idea of voting so much, they wanted to give people the opportunity to do it twice — in the same day! They scoured the dictionaries and thesauri for a word that meant “a place where perfectly good objects are processed in some fashion, resulting in a new product that serves the exact same purpose as the original, leaving one to wonder if the process ever needed to happen at all.”
Unfortunately, Charles Dickens hadn’t yet invented the word “factory.” So instead they opted for the word “college.” Because some Founding Fathers always wondered how much they ever used their degrees and how much they got out of the experience. So it made sense that the “electoral college” would be an institution where votes could be collected, scrutinized, analyzed, and processed, emerging on the other side as the same votes. Also, “college” sounds pretty fancy, don’t you think?
How does the Electoral College work?
The Electoral College is an arduous and confusing process that no one has been able to understand, like cold fusion or pinochle. But based on what we’ve learned through poorly written government Wikipedia posts, this is the process:
First, the Electoral College receives your vote. They look at it and say, “Yes, this is a vote for Candidate X. Put it in the Candidate X bin, Jerry. And let me know if that bin is getting too full. I think there are a few others in the hall closet.” Then, at the end of the day, whichever bin has the most votes is the winner of that state.
Wait, it sounds like our votes only affect our candidate in the state we live in, is that right?
Yup! It’s all a part of the great tradition we call “The Electoral College.”
And does every state get the same number of votes?
Good lord, no. Do you think North Dakota should get the same number of votes as California? Have you been to North Dakota in January? Each state gets a different number of votes based on a variety of factors, like, how sharp their tourism bureau is.
Do these numbers ever change?
Yes. Pluto no longer has any electoral votes.
Who works at the Electoral College?
Everyday Americans. Like the folks you might see milling about in the background in an episode of “Antiques Roadshow.”
Do they have special skills or training or are they tested?
Not really. They know where the spare bins are.
At least the more votes you get, the more electoral votes you’ll get, right?
Did you know old voting booths had an actual curtain for privacy? So fancy!
Well, sort of.
A candidate could get more popular votes than electoral votes if their margin of victory is huge in the states they win, but small in the states they lose. But since electoral votes are the “name of the game,” then the popular votes don’t matter, since we 86 those after the winner of each state is determined.
Hold on, you said votes that entered the Electoral College were “processed.” You never said the votes for candidates in a state they lose were “86-ed.”
We’re sorry, this is an F.AQ. and that was clearly not a Q.
Fine. Are the votes for candidates losing in a particular state not factored into the final tally?
No, they stay in the loser bin. Please remember, though, win or lose, every voter gets a sticker.
Doesn’t this seem flawed, dated, and inefficient to you?
Wow, okay comrade. Sorry you don’t like our American heritage and traditions. This system’s been with us since 1787. It’s older than the “Star Spangled Banner,” for crying out loud!
Has it ever worked?
It has always worked in the fashion in which it was designed. Oh, except for those five times.
But those happened early on, when the kinks were still being worked out, right?
Sort of? Elections, where winners lost the popular vote, took place in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.
Yeah, I’m surprised you didn’t know. He’s never shut up about it.
So then the Electoral College hasn’t always worked, right?
Hey, would you like to see the bins we store the votes in?