ELEC­TIONS IN THE UNITED STATES ... 270 or more Elec­toral Col­lege votes is all that mat­ters

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Robert Bud­dan Con­trib­u­tor

FIF­TEEN FORE­CASTS have con­sis­tently pre­dicted 270 plus Elec­toral Col­lege (EC) votes for Hil­lary Clin­ton, the min­i­mum to win.

Six ma­jor pre­dic­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions say her chances of win­ning range be­tween 65 per cent and 99 per cent. Five lead­ing mar­ket pre­dic­tors say her chances are at a low of 68 per cent to a high of 83 per cent. Polls say she has a na­tional ad­van­tage of about three per cent on the av­er­age.

Con­clu­sion on all counts: She will win to­day.

Tech­ni­cally speak­ing, though, the pres­i­dent is elected, not di­rectly by the peo­ple but by the 50 in­di­vid­ual states. This is one of many dif­fer­ences with elec­tions in the English-speak­ing Caribbean that fol­low the Bri­tish sys­tem.

Amer­i­can me­dia place much em­pha­sis on who is lead­ing in the polls, giv­ing the im­pres­sion that what mat­ters is who gets the most votes. This is only half right. What mat­ters is who gets the most votes in those states that add up to

270 or more Elec­toral Col­lege votes. The rea­son is that the United States was cre­ated out of the 50 states that united to make up the fed­eral sys­tem.

Those states have their own gov­ern­ments headed by gov­er­nors, but all of them to­gether have a fed­eral govern­ment headed by the pres­i­dent. This sys­tem

gives states a chance to de­ter­mine who should be pres­i­dent, a rea­son for join­ing the fed­er­a­tion.

States make vot­ing rules but these can­not over­ride the fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion. States elect se­na­tors and con­gress­men but are also as­signed votes, called Elec­toral Col­lege votes, to elect the pres­i­dent. Each state makes laws for vot­ing pro­ce­dures like what is an ac­cept­able voter ID, but an ap­peals court de­cides whether these rules might vi­o­late fed­eral law, like the Vot­ing Rights Act, by be­ing dis­crim­i­na­tory.


Elec­toral Col­lege votes are de­ter­mined by a state’s pop­u­la­tion size. Cal­i­for­nia has the most, 55, and is safe for Hil­lary Clin­ton. Small states might have only three. It is im­por­tant to win the large states, not just a large num­ber of states. Enough large states can bring in 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes even if they are not a ma­jor­ity of states. Hence, there is much at­ten­tion to as few as six or as many as 16 swing, or bat­tle­ground States. Most states, prob­a­bly two-thirds, are al­ready red (Trump) or blue (Clin­ton).

Four swing states are crit­i­cal to­day – Florida, North Carolina, Vir­ginia, Ohio, and you might add Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Colorado. The race could be over early if Clin­ton wins Florida.

The Elec­toral Col­lege is made up of 538 del­e­gates from all the states who meet in De­cem­ber to con­firm the votes. This is usu­ally a for­mal­ity, but in truth, some states al­low their Elec­toral Col­lege del­e­gates to change their vote or ab­stain. In a close race, this can ob­vi­ously mat­ter. In 2000, Ge­orge W. Bush won the pres­i­dency with 271 Elec­toral Col­lege votes, the clos­est pos­si­ble mar­gin.


Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Don­ald Trump speaks at plane-side rally in a hangar at Pitts­burgh In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Im­pe­rial, Penn­syl­va­nia, Sun­day.

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton greets mem­bers of the au­di­ence on stage af­ter speak­ing at a rally at C.B. Smith Park in Pem­broke Pines, Florida, on Saturday.


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