What is the role of the voters in the American election? How are they appointed?

On November 3, American voters are called to vote, indirectly, for the future American president. Formally, it is in fact the 538 grand voters, elected State by State, who will lead, on December 19, to the election of the 45e President of the United States.

In almost all of the States, (49 out of 51), when a candidate is at the head, he “wins” all the major voters: thus with 50% of the votes plus one vote, the leading candidate sends all the established voters. to his person at the electoral college. This is the “winner takes all” rule. Once the 538 electors have been designated, they then vote in December (the 14th, for the 2020 election) and thus choose the President of the United States.

  • How many great voters are there?

The American “electoral college” has 538 voters, so it takes 270 to win the presidential election. Their number is proportional to the population of a state, but a state cannot have less than three electors. This exception slightly over-represents very sparsely populated states, such as Alaska, Wyoming or Vermont, which all have more than four voters per million inhabitants, where the majority of states have an average of one to two voters. per million inhabitants.

Finally, the political balances in some states almost ensure victory for one camp or the other (California or New York State historically vote for the Democrats, Alaska or Alabama for the Republicans). As a result, these states are often less courted by the candidates, since their victory is either acquired or almost impossible.

  • Who can be a great voter?

Article II (2) of the United States Constitution provides that the president and vice president are chosen by the electorate “In the manner prescribed by its legislature”, but without advising or listing any way. However, this article does specify that“No senator or representative, nor any person holding the United States a charge of confidence or profit, can be nominated as a voter”. In fact, before the actual election, each party appoints potential major voters in all states.

  • Should a great voter respect the vote of his state?

Thirty-three states as well as the District of Columbia have laws which oblige him to do so, to avoid a situation of “disloyal grand voter” (faithless elector) by imposing either a fine (like $ 500 in North Carolina and the cancellation of the vote) or a replacement voter, as is the case in Montana, Nevada or Washington state.

Since the voters are chosen by the parties or the candidates, “betrayals” are rare. But there were some: in the 2000 election, the great Democratic voter Barbara Lett-Simmons thus abstained from voting rather than giving her vote to Al Gore. This episode did not change anything in the election since the Republican George W. Bush won with 271 votes out of 538.

  • Is it possible to gain votes and have fewer electors?

The US presidential election is an indirect election, so it is possible to get more votes nationwide (popular vote), but not to win a majority of large voters within the electoral college.

In the history of the United States, this has happened five times, including two times in the XXIe century: in 2000, when Democrat Al Gore won 543,895 more votes than Republican George W. Bush, and in 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2.86 million more votes than Republican Donald Trump.

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