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WHAT IS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?

The Electoral College is a group of 538 individuals throughout the United States who directly and formally vote for the President and Vice President of the United States as it is outlined in Article I, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution.  Each state is given a number Electors equal to the total number of Representatives in the House of Representative and the total number of Senators.  In 1804, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution changed this slightly by having each Elector cast one vote for President and one vote for Vice President (as long as both individuals do not live in the same state) instead of casting two separate votes for President.  In 1964, the Electoral College was further changed by allowing the District of Columbia three electoral votes.  Before this 23rd Amendment, only states could have Electors.

 

HOW MANY ELECTORS DOES MISSOURI HAVE?

Beginning with the Presidential Elections of 2012, Missouri will have 10 Electoral Votes.  Before this, Missouri had 11 votes.  Due to the 2010 Census, Missouri lost one Congressional House seat due to population changes.  This affected the number of Electoral Votes Missouri is allowed to have in the 2012 election.  The new number of 10 Electors will remain the same until at least the Election of 2024, where it is possible for the number of electors to change based on the results of the 2020 Census.

 

WHO CAN BE AN ELECTOR?

According to Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the US Constitution, any citizen who is not a member of Congress or holds an office of trust or profit for the United States government can be an Elector.  This was modified by the 14th Amendment (after the Civil War) that prohibits people who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or given aid and comfort to its enemies.  Each state must submit to the Office of the Federal Registrar a Certificate of Ascertainment confirming the names of the Electors.  This certificate is generally sufficient proof of the qualifications of the individual Electors.

 

HOW DOES ONE BECOME AN ELECTOR?

Each state and the District of Columbia will make laws that decide how Electors shall be chosen.  In Missouri, each political party will decide through its rules how potential Electors are to be chosen.

 

According to Missouri Statute, no later than the third Tuesday prior to each presidential election, the state committees of each established political party within Missouri shall certify in writing to the Secretary of State of Missouri the names of its nominees for Presidential Electors. At least one qualified resident of each congressional district shall be named as a nominee for Presidential Elector by each state committee, and the number of nominees for Presidential Elector named by each state committee shall equal the number to which the state is entitled.  Currently, there are four political parties recognized by the State of Missouri which are entitle to submit a slate of electors.

 

After the General Election, and after the Secretary of State of Missouri has certified the results of the Presidential election, the candidate with a plurality of votes shall have their slate of Electors chosen as the official Electors for the State of Missouri in the Presidential Election.

 

WHAT DOES THE ELECTOR DO ONCE CHOSEN?

In Missouri, the Electors will meet at the State Capitol in Jefferson City on the 1st Monday after the 2nd Wednesday in December after the General Elections.  There, each Elector shall cast one vote for President and one vote for Vice President.  In Missouri, the winner of the state general election for President is awarded all 10 Electoral Votes for Missouri (as well as the Vice President).  Many states require by law that the individual Electors vote in accordance to the outcome of the General Election.  However, in Missouri, there is no law that binds an Elector to vote for the candidate that they previously pledged to their party to vote for after the General Elections.  If this happens, these Electors are called "Faithless Electors." To date, no Elector from Missouri has fit this category.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WINNER-TAKE-ALL AND PROPORTIONAL METHODS OF AWARDING ELECTORS?

Currently, 48 states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow for the winner of the General Election to receive all of the Electoral Votes that state or district is permitted to have.  This is called the Winner-Take-All System. 

 

Two states, Nebraska and Maine, have a different method, sometimes referred to as the Proportional System.  In these states, the winner in each Congressional district's popular vote receives one Electoral Vote.  The winner of the statewide Presidential election will receive an additional two Electoral votes (meant to represent the Senators for that state).  An example of this split of Electoral votes happened in 2008 when John McCain (R) won the statewide vote in Nebraska but did not receive all the Electoral votes.  The 2nd Congressional District had a majority of people vote for Barack Obama (D) and therefore Obama received one Electoral Vote to McCain's four votes.

 

Missouri currently has a Winner-Take-All System.

 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE ELECTORS HAVE VOTED?

After the Electors have voted in Missouri, six copies are made and sent out to the following:

1. One copy sent to the President of the Senate (Vice President of the United States) (Joe Biden)

2. Two copies sent to the Archivist of the United States (David Ferriero)

3. Two copies sent to the Missouri Secretary of State (state officer that oversees elections) (Robin Carnahan)

4. One copy sent to the Chief Judge of the US District Court where the state capitol is a part (Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. in Kansas City, MO)

 

Attached to each copy is a Certificate of Ascertainment, which certifies the names and qualifications of each of the Electors.

 

On January 6, 2013, a joint session of Congress shall meet in the House of Representatives with the President of the Senate (Vice President) presiding.  Tellers open, present and record the votes for President and Vice President from each state in alphabetical order.  The President of the Senate announces the results of the vote and declares the winner.  The winners are the candidates with a majority of the Electoral Votes cast.  If an objection is made by anyone in Congress, it must be submitted in writing and signed by at least one member of each house.  After the objection, the two houses will split to their respective chambers and consider the merits of the objection.

 

2008 MISSOURI CERTIFICATE OF ASCERTAINMENT:  HERE

2008 MISSOURI ELECTORAL BALLOT:  HERE

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF NO CANDIDATE RECEIVES A MAJORITY OF THE ELECTORAL VOTES?

Out of 538 Electoral Votes possible, the magic number to win is 270 votes.  However, if no candidate receives a majority, then both houses shall immediately split up to their respective chambers.  The House of Representatives shall vote among the top three candidates with Electoral votes to decide who is President.  Each state will have just one vote.  For example, the 10 members of the House of Representatives from Missouri must vote as one, while the sole representative from Alaska has the power to vote solely for their state.  The Senate will vote on the Vice President from the top two vice presidential candidates with Electoral votes.  Each Senator has one vote.

 

HAS A PRESIDENT EVER BEEN DECIDED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES?

Yes.  Twice in American history has a Presidential election been thrown into the House of Representatives.

1.  Election of 1800:  Thomas Jefferson ties for President with his running mate Aaron Burr.  When the House voted to break the tie, there was another tie.  It took 36 votes of the House to decide Jefferson as President over Burr by a vote of 10 to 4 (with two states voting without result).  This lead to a change in the Constitution (12th Amendment) to require that the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates run on the same ticket.

 

2. Election of 1824:  Four candidates won Electoral Votes in this election, which led to no one receiving a majority of the Electoral Votes.  The three candidates for consideration in the House were William H. Crawford, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams.  Andrew Jackson had a plurality of Electoral votes with 99 to Adams' 84.  The House voted John Quincy Adams President with 13 state votes.  Jackson had seven and Crawford had four state votes, respectively.  John C. Calhoun was the running mate for both Adams and Jackson, so he had enough Electoral votes to become Vice President.

 

HAS A VICE PRESIDENT EVER BEEN DECIDED BY THE SENATE?

Yes.  Once in 1836.  The 23 Electors from Virginia voted for Martin Van Buren to be President, however all of them became "Faithless Electors" to his running mate, Richard M. Johnson.  This left Johnson one vote short of a majority to become Vice President.  He was easily elected Vice President by the Senate by a vote of 33-16 over Francis Granger.

 

It can be argued that Gerald Ford became Vice President by the Senate by a vote of 92-3 in 1973, but not as a result of a shortfall in Electoral Votes.  Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President, allowing President Nixon to nominated Gerald Ford as Vice President.

 

HAS A PRESIDENTIAL WINNER EVER BEEN ELECTED BY THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WHILE LOSING THE POPULAR VOTE?

Yes.  Four times in American History:

1.  1824 - John Quincy Adams received 30.9% of the vote and came in 2nd in the popular vote.  He became President by a vote of the House of Representatives.

2. 1876 - Rutherford B. Hays received 47.9% of the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College.  Samuel Tilden is the only candidate in American history to receive over 50% of the popular vote and not become President.

3. 1888 - Benjamin Harrison lost in the popular vote to Grover Cleveland by .8% but won the Electoral Vote

4. 2000 - George W. Bush lost in the popular vote to Al Gore by .5% but won the Electoral Vote

 

ELECTORAL VOTES (2012)

California

55

Texas

38

New York

29

Florida

29

Illinois

20

Pennsylvania

20

Ohio

18

Michigan

16

Georgia

16

North Carolina

15

New Jersey

14

Virginia

13

Washington

12

Arizona

11

Indiana

11

Tennessee

11

Massachusetts

11

Missouri

10

Minnesota

10

Maryland

10

Wisconsin

10

Colorado

9

South Carolina

9

Alabama

9

Louisiana

8

Kentucky

8

Oklahoma

7

Connecticut

7

Oregon

7

Iowa

6

Kansas

6

Arkansas

6

Utah

6

Nevada

6

Mississippi

6

New Mexico

5

Nebraska

5

West Virginia

5

Idaho

4

New Hampshire

4

Maine

4

Rhode Island

4

Hawaii

4

Vermont

3

South Dakota

3

North Dakota

3

Dist. Of Columbia

3

Delaware

3

Alaska

3

Montana

3

Wyoming

3

 

This page maintained by Tavish Whiting

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