There are 231,566,622 eligible voters in the United States. 135,135,298 voters cast their ballots in this year’s presidential election.
Hillary Clinton received 63,390,669 votes. Donald Trump received 61,820,845 votes. That means Hillary Clinton received 1.5 million more popular votes than Trump. So logic says since Clinton received more popular votes, she should be declared as the winner. Right?
Wrong. United States always does things differently. Just like Rajnikanth’s “en vazhi thani vazhi” (my path is a unique/separate path).
U.S. President is not elected by popular votes. There is something called “Electoral College Vote”. Total number of electoral college votes are 538. Whoever gets 270 electoral college votes will be declared the winner. Electoral College Votes are distributed to each state based on their population. In fact it is the number of Senators plus the number of House of Representatives for each state. Since California is the most populous state, it gets 55 votes. New York 29. Texas 38. Florida 29. Montana 3. North Dakota 3. And so on and so forth.
In a given state, if a candidate wins the popular vote, he/she gets all the electoral college votes. It is winner take all. Even if the candidate wins by one popular vote, he/she gets all the electoral college votes.
For example, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in California. Therefore, she got all the 55 electoral college votes. Same way, Trump won the popular vote in Florida. So he got all the 29 electoral college votes. Under this counting rule, Trump has 290 electoral college votes against a needed 270 votes. Therefore, he is declared as the winner. Hillary has got only 228 electoral college votes. (Two states have not declared results. Too close to call.)
How come Clinton won the popular vote and did not win the electoral college vote? It is because which ever states Clinton won, she won by a huge margin of popular votes. Which ever states Trump won, he won by a narrow margin of popular votes. But Trump won more states than Clinton.
Therefore popular vote does not matter in electing the President of the United States. It is the electoral college votes that count. And, there are 540 electoral college voters.
OK. How these electoral college voters are selected? Before the start of the election, each candidate will give a list of names of electoral college voters of their choice (from their own party) for each state. (In some states, it is thru intra-party election.). It is a package deal. When you vote for a candidate for President, you automatically vote for his /her choice of Vice President and his/her choice of electoral college voters.
They will assemble on December 19 and vote for the candidate to be President of the United States. Usually, they don’t change their votes. All of Trump’s electoral college votes will vote for Trump. Same for Clinton.
A funny thing is happening this year. Die hard Clinton fanatics are asking Trump’s electoral college voters not to vote for him on December 19. I think this is their desperate attempt. You fought hard. You lost. Just let it go and get ready for 2020. When Obama was elected in 2008, many white people did not like that. But they never asked Obama’s electoral college voters not to vote for him.
Many people, including Mr. Trump, do not like this electoral college system. Unless they make a constitutional amendment, it is here to stay. It is not that easy to make a constitutional amendment in the United States.
Why the founding fathers established an electoral college system to pick the President of the United States as opposed to a direct popular vote? That is another long confusing story. My head swirls.