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What You Should Know about Your Vote and the Electoral College

Election season is upon us, and as is the case every four years, every American citizen who is 18 or older can exercise their right to vote for the next president and vice president of this great country we call home.

As Election Day approaches this Tuesday, November 8th, some Americans have already voted early or know for sure who they will be voting for; but others are wondering if it’s worth it—if their votes will even count. I don’t blame them. This election is a tough pick for both conservatives and liberals. And, of course, there’s always that one person on social media or just someone you know (not you, hopefully) who ruins voting for everyone else by saying that the Electoral College chooses who wins anyway, so there’s no point in voting. This could not be further from the truth.

Our founding fathers went to great lengths to make sure that every American’s vote counts. That’s why they created the Electoral College. You’re probably wondering, “So what is the Electoral College?” I’m glad you asked! The Electoral College is composed of 538 electors who cast votes to decide the next POTUS (president of the United States) and VP. This seemingly random number of electors comes from the following equation: 435 U.S. Representatives + 100 U.S. Senators + 3 electors given to the District of Columbia = 538 electors. Electors are selected differently per state, but they are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or those with a strong affiliation with the Presidential candidates. The candidate that receives a majority of 270 electoral votes (out of 538) wins.

Keep in mind, that every elector represents a state, and they usually vote based on their state’s popular vote. The majority of the states – 27, to be exact – have a law that requires electors to vote for their party’s candidate if that candidate gets a majority of the state’s popular vote. The other states do not require this; however, it is a common practice for electors from those states to vote for their party’s nominee.

The number of electors each state receives depends on its population. Thus, candidates intentionally try to appeal to voters from densely populated states like Texas, Florida and New York. Currently, all three of these states combine to form a whopping 96 electoral votes! Some states are considered safe zones because parties know what to expect from them. Safe states are states who consistently vote for the same party again and again. Swing states are other states that candidates pay special attention to, because these states swing back and forth from one party to the next, such as Florida and Ohio.

So, why is the Electoral College important? If the POTUS was decided based on the popular vote, then some citizens’ votes would trump others’ votes (no pun intended). Those from large states would completely dominate the smaller states just by population alone. Candidates would easily be able to take advantage of this and only appeal to those larger states. The Electoral College gives smaller states a stronger voice and ensures that a popular dictator does not rise to power.

I hope you know that your vote and your voice in this election matter. Don’t be afraid to vote for who you want to be President, even if he or she doesn’t represent the two major political parties. Since every single vote matters, one single vote CAN make a difference! The only way to show the U.S. Government what you think about this election is to vote. Let your voice be heard!

For an even more simplified explanation of the Electoral College, check out this animated video:

Don’t forget to vote!

Regent. Elementary Education Major. Junior Year. Twenty. Swedish. Candy Lover. Sweet-ish. God. Family. Friends.
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