The Pronk Pops Show 1227, March 21, 2019 — Story 1:President Trump Said It is Time The United States Recognize the Golan Heights as Part of Israel — America Does Stand With Israel — Videos — Story 2: ISIS Caliphate Final Days Numbered — The End Is Near — Three Cheers — Videos — Story 3: Crazy Communist Cortez aka Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or AOC — Leads Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers aka Radical Extremist Democrat Socialists (REDS) — In Their Guts Voters Know She Is Nuts — Videos — Story 4: Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist (REDS) Want To Replace The Electoral College With Majority Rule Democracy or Tyranny of The Majority — Founding Fathers Were Right and Wise in Establishing The Electoral College — American People Vote By State For President of The United States of America — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Said It is Time The United States Recognize the Golan Heights as Part of Israel — America Does Stand With Israel — Videos


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Word for Word: Prime Minister Netanyahu “deeply grateful” for U.S. support (C-SPAN)

Trump supports Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights

With Trump’s Golan Heights move, Netanyahu may be the biggest winner

Trump tweets Israel should have sovereignty over Golan Heights

Trump: Time for US to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

Trump says U.S. should recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel as Netanyahu accuses Iran of trying to set up terror network there — and Trump insists the move has NOTHING to do with saving Bibi’s re-election hopes

  • The Golan Heights are 690 square miles of territory that Israel annexed in 1981 after winning it from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War
  • The United Nations has never recognized Israeli sovereignty there
  • Donald Trump said Thursday on Twitter that it’s time for the U.S. to do so
  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump on Monday in Washington and to speak at the AIPAC conference
  • The Golan Heights decision will be seen as a seismic move akin to repositioning America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
  • Trump said in a Fox Business Network interview that he had ‘been thinking about doing it for a long time’
  • Asked whether his announcement was linked to Netanyahu’s political future, Trump said, ‘No. I wouldn’t even know about that’
  • Netanyahu faces near-certain indictment on corruption charges as he prepares to stand for re-election on April 9 

President Donald Trump signaled on Thursday that the U.S. will soon officially recognize the contested Golan Heights region as a part of Israel.

The move comes just four days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit with Trump at the White House.

Israel will see such a development as rivaling the significance of last year’s opening of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem — a unilateral White House action that now has city authorities planning to name a new subway station after the American president.

Trump said in an interview with the Fox Business Network, slated for broadcast on Friday morning, that he had ‘been thinking about doing it for a long time.’

Host Maria Bartiromo asked the president if the move was about the election – a reference to the April 9 election the embattled Netanyahu faces.

‘No. I wouldn’t even know about that,’ Trump responded. The president’s timing, however, coincides with a political crisis for Netanyhu, who almost certainly will face a corruption indictment following an announcement by his country’s attorney general.

Asked whether his announcement was linked to Netanyahu’s political future, Trump said, ‘No. I wouldn’t even know about that,’ and added: ‘I hear he’s doing okay. But I would imagine the other side, whoever’s against him, is also in favor of what I just did.’

‘Every president has said, “Do that.” I’m the one that gets it done.’

President Donald Trump signaled on Thursday that the U.S. will soon officially recognize the contested Golan Heights region as a part of Israel


President Donald Trump signaled on Thursday that the U.S. will soon officially recognize the contested Golan Heights region as a part of Israel

'After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,' the president tweeted

‘After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,’ the president tweeted

The Golan Heights are 690 square miles straddling between Israel and Syria; Israel won the territory and others from Syria in 1967 during the Six-Day War

The Golan Heights are 690 square miles straddling between Israel and Syria; Israel won the territory and others from Syria in 1967 during the Six-Day War

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) joined Netanyahu (right) and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (not pictured) in prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted back at Trump, saying Trump's move came 'at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted back at Trump, saying Trump’s move came ‘at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel

Netanyahu tweeted his gratitude Thursday afternoon, writing: ‘At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!’

In a tweet, the president had declared: ‘After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!’

Rumors of the potential move swirled in diplomatic circles this week as Israel-watchers expected a policy announcement timed with an American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting next week, where Netanyahu will speak.

At least four prominent Democratic presidential contenders have said they will skip the annual event as AIPAC has come under fire from their party’s progressive wing.

Fort Wayne, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUS Secretary Julian Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are all sidestepping the thorny Israel issue after freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar earned a reputation as an anti-Semite for complaining that moneyed Jews control much of Washington.

The president insisted he knows 'nothing' about how his announcement might help Netanyahu solidify his political position in advance of an April 9 election; Netanyahu faces the possibility of a corruption indictment between now and then

The president insisted he knows ‘nothing’ about how his announcement might help Netanyahu solidify his political position in advance of an April 9 election; Netanyahu faces the possibility of a corruption indictment between now and then

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Netanyahu and Friedman visited the border between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted back at Trump, saying Trump's move came 'at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted back at Trump, saying Trump’s move came ‘at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel

Netanyahu tweeted his gratitude Thursday afternoon, writing: ‘At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!’

In a tweet, the president had declared: ‘After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!’

Rumors of the potential move swirled in diplomatic circles this week as Israel-watchers expected a policy announcement timed with an American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting next week, where Netanyahu will speak.

At least four prominent Democratic presidential contenders have said they will skip the annual event as AIPAC has come under fire from their party’s progressive wing.

Fort Wayne, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUS Secretary Julian Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are all sidestepping the thorny Israel issue after freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar earned a reputation as an anti-Semite for complaining that moneyed Jews control much of Washington.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Netanyahu and Friedman visited the border between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights last week

 The Golan Heights’ role as a Middle East political football intensified this week when the State Department stopped referring to it as ‘Israeli-occupied’ territory, a designation favored by Arabs.

In a new report, the area was called the ‘Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.’

A spokesman for Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called that decision ‘a continuation of the hostile approach of the American administration toward our Palestinian people.’

The spokesman said the shift is part of Trump’s plan to ‘liquidate’ the Palestinians’ cause.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 during the Six-Day War. The area’s 690 square miles today are a buffer zone between the two nations.

The United Nations weeks later called on Israel to withdraw from the territory, and from the West Bank and Gaza in a resolution that also declared that Israel had the same right as Arab states ‘to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.’

Pompeo's (center) frequent appearance in Israel is a sign of Trump's closeness with Netanyahu (left) and the value Israelis place on the certainty of their U.S. alliance

Netanyahu, Pompeo and Friedman finished their Old City Jerusalem tour on Thursday with a visit to the Western Wall Tunnels

Netanyahu, Pompeo and Friedman finished their Old City Jerusalem tour on Thursday with a visit to the Western Wall Tunnels

Israel instead enacted a law that effectively annexed the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights in 1981 following years of squabbling over the resolution.

The UN Security Council then passed a resolution declaring ‘that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.’

Netanyahu suggested Thursday in Jerusalem that he’s eager to see Trump make a unilateral move akin to his decision in December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and his later move of America’s embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The presidential order enraged Palestinians, who see the largely Palestinian region of East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian nation whose existence the U.S. hasn’t acknowledged.

Israel’s prime minister also thanked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday for the Trump administration’s strong denunciations of Iran, which Israel regards as an existential threat.

The prime minister accused Tehran on Thursday of attempting to set up a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, using Hezbollah militia groups from Lebanon as mercenaries.

Druze women, Arab-speaking Israeli citizens who live in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights but consider themselves Palestinians, watched a protest there last week

Druze women, Arab-speaking Israeli citizens who live in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights but consider themselves Palestinians, watched a protest there last week

‘Just last week we uncovered efforts by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, to build a military network in Syria, in the Golan Heights,’ Netanyahu said during a press conference. ‘All of you can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan: We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.’

‘I think, for this reason, and many more, it is time that the international community recognises Israel’s stay on the Golan, and the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel.’

One reason is the steady deterioration of security along a demilitarized border zone between Israel and Syria which lost its historical calm when the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, visited the Golan Heights with Netanyahu on Monday and pledged to promote Israel’s sovereignty over the area ‘now and forever.’

Story 2: ISIS Caliphate Final Days Numbered — The End Is Near — Three Cheers — Videos —

Syrian media, Pentagon send conflicting reports on ISIS defeat

Flares illuminate Syrian horizon as WH claims caliphate defeated

militants will still be a threat

Inside ISIS’s Final Fight (HBO)

Fighting in Syria continues as ISIS close to defeat


White House declares end to Islamic State, but fighting grinds on

March 22 at 4:59 PM

U.S.-backed forces have pushed the Islamic State out of its final foothold in Syria, the White House said Friday, making a long-awaited victory announcement but defying eyewitness accounts of continued fighting.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the group’s “territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria.”

Trump, making brief remarks to reporters after landing in Palm Beach, Fla., showed reporters a map comparing Iraq and Syria at the height of Islamic State power in 2014 with today.

“That’s what we have right now,” he said, indicating areas no longer controlled by the militants.

The announcement, more than four years after the United States launched its first airstrikes against the then-formidable militant group, follows months of speculation about when U.S.-backed Syrian forces would capture the Islamic State’s final foothold in eastern Syria.

Neighboring Iraq declared victory over the group in late 2017.

But the White House statements were immediately contradicted by reports from eyewitnesses and local forces in eastern Syria, where the U.S.-backed ­Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have struggled to root out militant holdouts who are dug in among civilians.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF, said the fighting had not eased up around the village of Baghouz, which has been the scene of an intense battle against those holdouts.

“Heavy fighting continues around mount #Baghouz right now to finish off whatever remains of ISIS,” he said in a message on Twitter.

A U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly, said the SDF was still working “to clear pockets of ISIS from caves under Baghouz.”

The official said there appeared to be a few hundred militants remaining around Baghouz.

Trump claims credit for ISIS’s territorial losses in Syria

President Trump on March 20 showed a map of the Islamic State’s diminished territory in Syria, and said it “will be gone by tonight.” 

Photographs from the area showed the night sky lit up with tracer rounds.

The militants appeared to be pinned down along a cliff near the Euphrates River as they mount a desperate final stand.

More than 50,000 people have left the enclave since January, surprising military planners who have repeatedly believed the area to be almost empty.

On Thursday, the International Rescue Committee said that thousands more civilians could follow in the coming days.

“These women and children are in the worst condition we have seen since the crisis first began,” said Wendy Taeuber, the group’s Iraq and northeast Syria country director.

The Pentagon did not immediately provide an explanation for the apparent disconnect between the White House depiction and reports from eastern Syria.

Trump, who has been eager to end the U.S. military mission in Syria, has repeatedly suggested in recent months that a final victory was imminent, only to have the fighting drag on.

In December, Trump made another victory declaration as he announced, in a surprise move, that he would pull out all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

In the following weeks, the president appeared to back away from that victory claim as top advisers warned that an abrupt departure from Syria would alienate allies and jeopardize gains against the militants.

The Pentagon now plans to keep at least 400 troops in Syria to help the SDF and other allies maintain security in former Islamic State strongholds.

While a conclusion to the operation would be a milestone for the Pentagon, officials expect the group will seek to mount continued insurgent attacks in Syria, as it has in Iraq.

Sanders said Trump had been briefed during his flight by acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Shanahan joins Trump at his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort as the president considers nominating the former Boeing executive to the top Pentagon job.

It was not immediately clear whether Shanahan conveyed to Trump that the Islamic State had been ejected from Baghouz, or whether Trump or Shanahan were aware of the assessment from Syrian and U.S. forces in the region.

Story 3: Crazy Communist Cortez aka Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or AOC — Leads Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers aka Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist (REDS) — In Their Guts Voters Know She Is Nuts — Videos —

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The political fraud of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal”

By Will Morrow
23 November 2018

Last week, newly-elected Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a proposal for an addendum to the rules of the US House of Representatives, to create a new congressional committee that would draft legislation for a “Green New Deal.” Nine Democrats have already put their names to the proposal, including Rashida Tlaib, who like Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The document includes the call for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years, and actions to “virtually eliminate poverty in the United States and to make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone.” It calls for “a job guarantee program to assure a living wage to every person who wants one”; “massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases,” and “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.”

The document, as with Ocasio-Cortez’s politics, is characterized by a massive political fraud. It includes various left-sounding rhetoric, but is entirely directed to and dependent upon the Democratic Party. In particular, the members of the committee would be selected by the Speaker of the House, who is likely to be Nancy Pelosi, the stalwart of the Democratic Party establishment who has received the support of Ocasio-Cortez herself.

Any serious measures to stop global warming, let alone assure a job and livable wage to everyone, would require a massive redistribution of wealth and the reallocation of trillions currently spent on US imperialism’s neo-colonial wars abroad.

Ocasio-Cortez’s document, however, excludes any encroachment on the fortunes of the ruling class. It calls instead for “innovative public and other financing structures,” including a “new public bank,” or system of banks, or “public venture funds,” which in concrete terms means nothing more than new avenues for providing cheap credit to private corporations. Everything is phrased as part of consultation with “business” leaders.

Several of her proposals are explicitly aimed at promoting the interests of different sections of capital, including the call to “promote opportunities” for “entrepreneurship,” and “promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism.”

“Labor market flexibility”—that is, the ability of corporations to fire and hire at will. Such is the character of Ocasio-Cortez’s great left-wing reform!

The original “New Deal,” which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution that had occurred less than two decades before.

American capitalism could afford to make such concessions because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a social counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services.

To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new “New Deal,” of a green or any other variety, is to promote an obvious political fiction.

None of the signatories to the bill believes that any of its proposals—except those directly tailored to corporate interests—will ever be implemented. Its purpose is rather to promote illusions that the Democratic Party, a party of the corporate and financial elite no less than the Republicans, can be transformed into an agency of social progress.

The document states that the newly-formed committee would be required to complete its plan by January 2020 and publish its draft legislation by March 2020, immediately prior to the next presidential elections. Any such documents would be wholly aimed at providing some popular appeal to the Democrats’ election campaign. They would be permanently shelved immediately after the election, regardless of the outcome.

Ocasio-Cortez’s promotion of the “Green New Deal” is also aimed at distracting attention from her own rapid rightward shift after her primary victory.

She has backtracked on her earlier criticisms of Israeli slaughters of Gaza protesters; hailed the late Republican Senator and war criminal John McCain as an “unparalleled example of human decency and American service;” called for securing US borders, dropped her previous calls to “Abolish ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” and declared that this slogan “does not mean abolish deportations” of immigrants. Over the weekend, she declared her support for Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the House.

The “Green New Deal” is another example of the political function of Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA in seeking to provide a “left” political veneer for the capitalist politics of the Democratic Party. The latter is campaigning against the billionaire demagogue Trump on a right-wing basis, attacking him not for his militarist threats, fascistic rants, attacks on immigrants and efforts to build up an extra-parliamentary extreme-right movement, but for being insufficiently deferential toward the American intelligence agencies and aggressive toward Russia.

A socialist response to climate change cannot take place through the Democratic Party or within the framework of capitalism. It requires the organization of production according to a rational, scientific plan on a global scale. This requirement is fundamentally incompatible with both the private ownership of humanity’s productive forces (and the subordination of production according to the profit interests of the capitalist class), and the continued division of the world into rival national states, who compete on behalf of their own capitalist class for markets, profits and geostrategic control.

What is needed is not empty promises of a new “New Deal” bestowed from above by the capitalist class—which in any case is impossible—but socialist revolution by the working class and a fundamental transformation of society.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez standing
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York‘s 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded by Joe Crowley
Personal details
Born October 13, 1989 (age 29)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Boston University (BA)
Website House website

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (/ˌkɑːsi kɔːrˈtɛz/Spanish: [oˈkasjo koɾˈtes];[1] born October 13, 1989), also known by her initials, AOC,[2][3] is an American politician and activist.[4][5] A member of the Democratic Party, she has been the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since January 3, 2019. The district includes the eastern part of The Bronx and portions of north-central Queens in New York City.

On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez drew national recognition when she won the Democratic Party’s primary election for New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating the ten-term incumbent Congressman, Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, in what was widely seen as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm election primaries.[11] She beat Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in the November 6, 2018, general election, and at age 29, became the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress.[12] Ocasio-Cortez is noted for her social media presence.[13][14]

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[15] Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib are the first two members of the group in Congress. She advocates for a progressive platform that includes Medicare For All, a federal jobs guarantee, a proposed Green New Deal, abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, free public college and trade school, and a 70% marginal tax rate for incomes above $10 million. Before running for Congress, she served as an educational director for the 2017 Northeast Collegiate World Series for the National Hispanic Institute. Ocasio-Cortez majored in international relations and economics at Boston University, graduating cum laude in 2011.


Early life

Ocasio-Cortez was born in The BronxNew York City, on October 13, 1989, to Blanca Ocasio-Cortez (née Cortez) and Sergio Ocasio in a Catholic family.[16] She has a younger brother, Gabriel Ocasio-Cortez.[17] Her father was born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican family and became an architect; her mother was born in Puerto Rico.[18][19] She has described her Puerto Rican community as an amalgamation: “We are black; we are indigenous; we are Spanish; we are European.”[20] Until age five, Ocasio-Cortez lived with her family in an apartment in the neighborhood of Parkchester.[19] The family moved to a house in Yorktown Heights, a suburb in Westchester County.[19]

Ocasio-Cortez attended Yorktown High School, graduating in 2007.[21] She came in second in the Microbiology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with a microbiology research project on the effect of antioxidants on the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans.[22] In a show of appreciation for her efforts, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory named a small asteroid after her: 23238 Ocasio-Cortez.[23][24] In high school, she took part in the National Hispanic Institute‘s Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session. She later became the LDZ Secretary of State while she attended Boston University. Ocasio-Cortez had a John F. Lopez Fellowship.[25] In 2008, while Ocasio-Cortez was a sophomore at Boston University, her father died of lung cancer.[26][27] During college, she served as an intern in the immigration office during the final year of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy‘s tenure.[28] “I was the only Spanish speaker, and as a result, as basically a kid—a 19-, 20-year-old kid—whenever a frantic call would come into the office because someone is looking for their husband because they have been snatched off the street by ICE, I was the one that had to pick up that phone,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I was the one that had to help that person navigate that system.”[28]

She graduated cum laude from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, majoring in international relations and economics.[25][29][30]

When her father died intestate in 2008,[31] she became involved in a long probate battle to settle his estate. She has said that the experience helped her learn “firsthand how attorneys appointed by the court to administer an estate can enrich themselves at the expense of the families struggling to make sense of the bureaucracy.”[32]

Early career

After college, Ocasio-Cortez moved back to the Bronx and found work as an educational director. Following the death of her father, she took on an additional job working as a bartender and waitress to help her mother—a house cleaner and school-bus driver—fight foreclosure of their home.[33][34] Ocasio-Cortez later launched Brook Avenue Press, a publishing firm for books that portray the Bronx in a positive light.[35] She worked as lead educational strategist at GAGEis, Inc.[36] Ocasio-Cortez also worked for the nonprofit National Hispanic Institute, serving as the Educational Director of the 2017 Northeast Collegiate World Series, a five-day long program targeted at college-bound high school students from across the United States and other countries, where she also participated in the panel on the future of Latino leadership.[25][37][38]

In the 2016 primary, Ocasio-Cortez worked as an organizer for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.[39] After the general election, she traveled across America by car, visiting places such as FlintMichigan, and Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, and speaking to people affected by the Flint water crisis and the Dakota Access Pipeline.[40] In an interview, she recalled her visit to Standing Rock as a tipping point, saying that before that, she had believed that the only way to effectively run for office was if you had access to wealth, social influence, and power. But her visit to North Dakota, where she saw others “putting their whole lives and everything that they had on the line for the protection of their community”, inspired her to begin to work for her own community.[41]

2018 campaign

Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional campaign logo was inspired by “revolutionary posters and visuals from the past.”

Ocasio-Cortez began her campaign while waiting tables and tending bar at Flats Fix, a taqueria in New York City’s Union Square.[42] “For 80 percent of this campaign, I operated out of a paper grocery bag hidden behind that bar,” she told Bon Appétit.[43] She was the first person since 2004 to challenge Joe Crowley, the Democratic Caucus Chair, in the primary. She faced a financial disadvantage, saying, “You can’t really beat big money with more money. You have to beat them with a totally different game.” Her campaign posters’ design were said to have taken inspiration from “revolutionary posters and visuals from the past.”[44]

On June 15, the candidates’ only face-to-face encounter during the campaign occurred on a local political talk show, Inside City Hall. The format was a joint interview conducted by Errol Louis, which NY1 characterized as a debate.[45]On June 18, a debate in the Bronx was scheduled, but Crowley did not participate. He sent former New York City Council member Annabel Palma in his place.[46][47][48]


Ocasio-Cortez was endorsed by progressive and civil rights organizations such as MoveOn,[49] Justice Democrats,[50] Brand New Congress,[51] Black Lives Matter,[52] and Democracy for America,[39] and by gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who, like Ocasio-Cortez, also challenged a longtime incumbent. Nixon challenged incumbent Andrew Cuomo in the 2018 New York gubernatorial election[53] but lost.

Governor Cuomo endorsed Crowley, as did both of New York’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, 11 U.S. Representatives, 31 local elected officials, 31 trade unions, and progressive groups such as the Sierra ClubPlanned Parenthood, the Working Families PartyNARAL Pro-Choice America, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, among others.[54] California representative Ro Khanna, a Justice Democrat like Ocasio-Cortez,[55] initially endorsed Crowley but later endorsed Ocasio-Cortez in an unusual dual endorsement.[56]

Primary election

Ocasio-Cortez speaks to a voter during the campaign.

On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez received 57.13% of the vote (15,897) to Joe Crowley’s 42.5% (11,761), defeating the 10-term incumbent by almost 15 percentage points.[57] Her win, and Crowley’s defeat, came as a shock to many political commentators and analysts and immediately garnered nationwide attention. Time called her victory “the biggest upset of the 2018 elections so far”;[58] CNN made a similar statement.[7] The New York Times described Crowley’s loss as “a shocking primary defeat on Tuesday, the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade, and one that will reverberate across the party and the country”.[39] The Guardian called it “one of the biggest upsets in recent American political history”.[59] Her victory was especially surprising as she was outspent by a margin of 18 to 1.[60] Merriam-Webster reported that searches for the word “socialism” spiked 1,500% after her victory.[61] Crowley conceded defeat on election night.[62] However, that he did not call primary night to congratulate Ocasio-Cortez was a matter of dispute which was made public on Twitter on July 11, fueling some short-lived speculation that he intended to run against her.[63]

Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky congratulated her.[10][64] Several commentators noted the similarities between Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over Crowley and Dave Brat‘s Tea Party movement-supported 2014 victory over Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th congressional district.[65][66] Like Crowley, Cantor was a high-ranking member in his party’s caucus.[67] After her primary win, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed several progressive primary challengers to Democratic incumbents nationwide,[68] capitalizing on her fame and spending her political capital in a manner unusual even for unexpected primary winners.[69]

Without campaigning for it, Ocasio-Cortez won the Reform Party primary as a write-in candidate in a neighboring congressional district, New York’s 15th, with a total vote count of nine, highest among all 22 write-in candidates. She declined the nomination.[70][71]

General election

Ocasio-Cortez faced Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in the November 6 general election.[72] Pappas, who lives in Astoria, is an economics professor at St. John’s University. According to the New York Post, Pappas did not actively campaign. The Post wrote that “Pappas’ bid was a long shot,” since the 14th has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+29, making it the sixth most Democratic district in New York City. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost six to one.[73][74][75] Ocasio-Cortez was endorsed by various politically progressive organizations and figures, including former President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.[76][77] She spoke at the Netroots Nation conference in August 2018, and was called “the undisputed star of the convention.”[78]

Crowley also remained on the ballot, as the nominee of the Working Families Party (WFP). Neither Crowley nor the party actively campaigned, with both having endorsed Ocasio-Cortez after her Democratic primary victory.[79] Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who won reelection in 2006 on a third-party line after losing the Democratic Primary in 2006, penned a July 17 column in the Wall Street Journal expressing his hope that Crowley would actively campaign on the WFP ballot line.[80] Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the WFP, wrote an endorsement of, and apology to, Ocasio-Cortez for the New York Daily News; he asked voters not to vote for Crowley if his name remained on the general election ballot.[81]

Ocasio-Cortez won the election with 78% of the vote (110,318) to Pappas’s 14% (17,762). Her election was part of a broader Democratic victory in the 2018 midterm elections, as the party gained control of the House by picking up at least 40 seats.[82] Saikat Chakrabarti, who had been her campaign co-chair, became chief of staff for her congressional office.[83] Co-creator of two progressive political action committees, he has been called a significant political presence.[84]

Media coverage

Ocasio-Cortez during an interview with Julia Cumming in December 2017

After her primary win, Ocasio-Cortez quickly garnered nationwide media attention, including numerous articles and TV talk-show appearances. She also drew a great deal of media attention when she and Sanders campaigned for James Thompson in Kansas in July 2018. A rally in Wichita had to be moved from a theater with a capacity of 1,500 when far more people said they would attend. The event drew 4,000 people, with some seated on the floor. In The New Yorker Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote that while Sanders remained “the de-facto leader of an increasingly popular left, [he is unable to] do things that do not come naturally to him, like supply hope.” Wallace-Wells suggested that Ocasio-Cortez had made Sanders’s task easier, as he could point to her success to show that ideas “once considered to be radical are now part of the mainstream”.[85]

Prior to defeating incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary, Ocasio-Cortez was given little airtime by most traditional news media outlets.[86][87] Jimmy Dore interviewed her when she first announced her candidacy in June 2017.[88] After her primary win, Brian Stelter wrote that progressive-media outlets, such as The Young Turks and The Intercept, “saw the Ocasio-Cortez upset coming” in advance.[66] Margaret Sullivan said that traditional metrics of measuring a campaign’s viability, like total fundraising, were contributing to a “media failure”.[87] Ocasio-Cortez was barely mentioned in print-media coverage until her primary election win.[89] Ocasio-Cortez was one of the subjects of the 2018 Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 11/9; it chronicled her primary campaign.[90][91]

Just before Ocasio-Cortez took office, Twitter user “AnonymousQ” shared a Boston University student-produced dance video in which she briefly appeared, in an attempt to embarrass her.[92] Many social media users came to her defense, inspiring memes and a Twitter account syncing the footage to songs like “Mambo No. 5” and “Gangnam Style“.[93] Ocasio-Cortez lightheartedly responded by posting a video of herself dancing to Edwin Starr‘s “War“.[92]

116th Congress

File:Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - 2019-01-16 Speech about an immigrant constituent.webm

Ocasio-Cortez’s first speech as a Representative, addressing the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown

Ocasio-Cortez entered Congress with no seniority but with a large social media presence that could increase her influence in the House. Axios has credited her with “as much social media clout as her fellow freshman Democrats combined.”[13] As of February 2019, she has 3.1 million Twitter followers,[14] up from 1.38 million in November 2018[13] and surpassing Nancy Pelosi.[94] She has 2.2 million Instagram followers[95] and 500,000 followers on Facebook.[96] Her colleagues were so impressed that she was appointed to teach them social media lessons upon her arrival in Congress.[96]

On the first day of congressional orientation, Ocasio-Cortez participated in a climate change protest outside the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.[97] Ocasio-Cortez backed Pelosi’s bid to be Speaker of the House once the Democratic Party reclaimed the majority on the condition that Pelosi “remains the most progressive candidate for speaker.”[98]

During the orientation for new members hosted by the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter about the influence of corporate interests by sponsors such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where’s labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?”[99][100][101] During her first month in office, admirers of Ocasio-Cortez left dozens of post-it notes with messages of encouragement in orange, pink, yellow. The sticky notes were removed after the Superintendent of House Office Buildings said the notes obscured the braille on her nameplate.”[102]

When Ocasio-Cortez made her first speech on the floor of Congress, C-SPAN tweeted out the video. Within 12 hours, the video of her four-minute speech set the record as C-SPAN’s most-watched Twitter video by a member of the House of Representative.[103]

Speaking at a Congressional hearing with a panel of representatives from campaign finance watchdog groups, Ocasio-Cortez questioned the panel about ethics regulations as they apply to both the president and members of Congress. She asserted that no regulations prevent lawmakers “from being bought off by wealthy corporations.”[104] With more than 37.5 million views, the clip became the most-watched political video ever posted on Twitter.[105]

When President Trump‘s former lawyer Michael Cohen appeared before the Oversight Committee, Ocasio-Cortez asked him whether Trump had ever inflated property values for bank or insurance purposes and inquired where to get more information on the subject. Cohen’s reply implied that Trump may have committed potential tax and bank fraud in his personal and business tax returns, financial statements and real-estate filings.[106][107] David Brooks, a commentator for The New York Times, praised her for “laying down specific questions for specific predicates”.[108]

Committee assignments

Political positions

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America[15] and embraces the democratic socialist label as part of her political identity. In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, she described democratic socialism as “…part of what I am. It’s not all of what I am. And I think that that’s a very important distinction.”[111] She believes capitalism will gradually be replaced.[citation needed] In response to a question about democratic socialism ultimately calling for an end to capitalism during a Firing Line interview on PBS, she answered: “Ultimately, we are marching towards progress on this issue. I do think that we are going to see an evolution in our economic system of an unprecedented degree, and it’s hard to say what direction that that takes.”[112]

She rejects the policies of Cuba, the USSR and Venezuela, and favors policies that “most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.”[113][114]

Ocasio-Cortez supports progressive policies such as single-payer Medicare for Alltuition-free public college and trade school,[115] a federal job guarantee,[116] guaranteed family leave,[117] abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,[118] ending the privatization of prisons, enacting gun-control policies,[119] and energy policy relying on 100% renewables.[120] She is open to using Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as an economic pathway that could provide funding and enable implementation of these goals.[121]


Ocasio-Cortez speaks on a Green New Deal in front of the Capitol Building in February 2019.

Ocasio-Cortez has called for “more environmental hardliners in Congress”,[122] describing climate change as “the single biggest national security threat for the United States and the single biggest threat to worldwide industrialized civilization” and stating that the world will end in 12 years unless the problem is addressed.[123][124][125] Her comments referred to the recent United Nations report that established that unless carbon emissions are reined in over the next 12 years the effects of climate change will be irreversible.[126] Ocasio-Cortez advocates for the United States to transition to an electrical grid running on 100% renewable energy[127] and to end the use of fossil fuels within 10 years. The changes, estimated to cost roughly $2.5 trillion per year, would be financed in part by higher taxes on the wealthy.[128]

The plan, called the Green New Deal, has gained support from some Democratic senators, including Elizabeth WarrenBernie Sanders and Cory Booker;[127] other Democrats, such as Dianne Feinstein, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone, have expressed opposition. Activist groups such as Greenpeace and the Sunrise Movement have also come out in favor of the Green New Deal. No Republican lawmakers have voiced support.[129][130][131][132]

On February 7, Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released a joint resolution laying out the main elements of a 10-year “economic mobilization” that would phase out fossil fuel use and overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. Their plan calls for implementing the “social cost of carbon” that was part of the Obama administration’s plans to address climate change and transitioning the United States to 100% renewable, zero-emission energy sources, including electric cars and high-speed rail systems.[133]

Tax policy

Ocasio-Cortez proposed introducing a marginal tax as high as 70% on income above $10 million to pay for the Green New Deal. According to tax experts contacted by The Washington Post, this tax would bring in extra revenue of $720 billion per decade.[134][135] Ocasio-Cortez has opposed and voted against the pay-as-you-go rule supported by Democratic leaders, which requires deficit-neutral fiscal policy, with all new expenditures balanced by tax increases or spending cuts. She joins Ro Khanna in condemning the rule as hamstringing new or expanded progressive policies.[136][137] She cites Modern Monetary Theory, a heterodox macroeconomic theory widely rejected by economists,[138][139] as a justification for higher deficits to finance her agenda.[140][141] Drawing a parallel with the Great Depression, she explains that the Green New Deal needs deficit spending like the original New Deal.[142]


Ocasio-Cortez has expressed support for defunding and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency on multiple occasions. In February 2018, she called it “a product of the Bush-era Patriot Act suite of legislation” and “an enforcement agency that takes on more of a paramilitary tone every single day”.[143][144] That June, she said she would “stop short of fully disbanding the agency”, and would rather “create a pathway to citizenship for more immigrants through decriminalization”.[145] She later clarified that this does not mean ceasing all deportations.[146] She has called the Department of Homeland Security‘s immigration detention centers “black sites“, citing limited public access to them.[147] Two days before the primary election, Ocasio-Cortez attended a protest at an ICE child-detention center in Tornillo, Texas.[148] She was the only Democrat to vote against H.R. 648, a bill to fund and reopen the government, because it funded ICE.[149]


Ocasio-Cortez supports transitioning to a single-payer healthcare system, recognizing medical care as a human right.[150][151] She says that a single government health insurer should cover every American, reducing overall costs.[116] On her campaign website, Ocasio-Cortez says “Almost every other developed nation in the world has universal healthcare. It’s time the United States catch up to the rest of the world in ensuring all people have real healthcare coverage that doesn’t break the bank.”[151] The Medicare-for-all proposal has been adopted by many likely Democratic 2020 presidential contenders.[117]

LGBTQ equality

Ocasio-Cortez is a staunch proponent of LGBTQ rights and LGBTQ equality. She has said she supports the LGBTQ community and thanked its members for its role in her campaign.[152][119] She publicized and later appeared on a video game live stream to help raise money for Mermaids, a charity for trans children.[153] At the January 2019 New York City Women’s March in Manhattan, Ocasio-Cortez gave a detailed speech in support of measures needed to ensure LGBTQ equality in the workplace and elsewhere.[154] She has also made a point of recognizing transgender rights specifically, saying, “It’s a no-brainer … trans rights are civil rights are human rights.”[155]

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

In May 2018, Ocasio-Cortez criticized the Israel Defense Forces‘ use of deadly force against Palestinians participating in the 2018 Gaza border protests, calling it a “massacre” in a tweet.[156] In a July 2018 interview with the PBS series Firing Line, Ocasio-Cortez said that she is “a proponent of a two-state solution[157] and called Israel’s presence in the West Bank an “occupation of Palestine“.[158] Her use of the term “occupation” drew backlash from a number of pro-Israel groups and commentators.[159][160] Others defended her remarks, citing the United Nations’ designation of the territory in the West Bank as occupied.[161][162]

Puerto Rico

Ocasio-Cortez has called for “solidarity with Puerto Rico”. She has advocated for granting Puerto Ricans further civil rights, regardless of Puerto Rico’s legal classification. She advocates for voting rights and disaster relief. Ocasio-Cortez was critical of FEMA‘s response to Hurricane Maria and the federal government’s unwillingness to address Puerto Rico’s political status.[163] She believes the federal government should increase investment in Puerto Rico.[119]

Other issues

  • Education: Ocasio-Cortez campaigned in favor of establishing tuition-free public colleges and trade schools. She has said she is still paying off student loans herself and wants to cancel all student debt.[151]
  • Impeachment of President Trump: On June 28, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN she would support the impeachment of President Trump, citing Trump’s alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause and stating that “we have to hold everyone accountable and that no person is above that law.”[164][165]
  • Amazon HQ2: Ocasio-Cortez opposed a planned deal by New York City to give $3 billion in state and city subsidies and tax breaks to build secondary headquarters in an area near her congressional district. Ocasio-Cortez said that they should instead invest the $3 billion in their district themselves.[166][167][168][169]

Awards and honors

The MIT Lincoln Laboratory named the asteroid 23238 Ocasio-Cortez after her when she was a senior in high school in recognition of her second-place finish in the 2007 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.[23][24] Ocasio-Cortez was named the 2017 National Hispanic Institute Person of the Year by Ernesto Nieto.[25]

Personal life

Ocasio-Cortez has family in Puerto Rico, where her grandfather lived in a nursing home[163] before dying in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.[170] After Ocasio-Cortez’s father’s death in 2008, her mother and grandmother relocated to Florida due to financial hardship.[18][33]She identifies as Catholic[171] and described her faith and its impact on her life and campaign for criminal justice reform in an article in America, the magazine of the Jesuit order in the United States.[172] Ocasio-Cortez said that she has Sephardic Jewish ancestry, although she does not practice the faith.[171] She has said “to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of… African Moors [and] slavesTaino Indians, Spanish colonizers, Jewish refugees, and likely others. We are all of these things and something else all at once—we are Boricua.”[20]

During the 2018 election campaign, Ocasio-Cortez resided in Parkchester, Bronx with her boyfriend, Riley Roberts.[5][173][174][175]

See also

References …

Story 4: Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist (REDs) Want To Replace The Electoral College With Majority Rule Democracy or Tyranny of The Majority And Lowering The Voting Age To 16 Years Old — Founding Fathers Were Right and Wise in Establishing The Electoral College — American People Vote By State For President of The United States of America — Videos

Warren calls for abolishing Electoral College, moving to national popular vote

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls to abolish Electoral College

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Professor explains the Electoral College process

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The Electoral College and Its Importance

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Levin: Left’s agenda is incompatible with constitutionalism


What is the Electoral College?

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in theConstitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators. Read more about the allocation of electoral votes.

Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “state” also refers to the District of Columbia.

Each candidate running for President in your state has his or her own group of electors. The electors are generally chosen by the candidate’s political party, but state laws vary on how the electors are selected and what their responsibilities are. Read more about the qualifications of the Electors and restrictions on who the Electors may vote for.

The presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. You help choose your state’s electors when you vote for President because when you vote for your candidate you are actually voting for your candidate’s electors.

Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation.” Read more about the allocation of Electors among the states and try to predict the outcome of the Electoral College vote.

After the presidential election, your governor prepares a “Certificate of Ascertainment” listing all of the candidates who ran for President in your state along with the names of their respective electors. The Certificate of Ascertainment also declares the winning presidential candidate in your state and shows which electors will represent your state at the meeting of the electors in December of the election year. Your state’s Certificates of Ascertainments are sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election. See the key dates for the 2016 election and information about the roles and responsibilities of state officialsthe Office of the Federal Register and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Congress in the Electoral College process.

The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Your state’s electors’ votes are recorded on a “Certificate of Vote,” which is prepared at the meeting by the electors. Your state’s Certificates of Votes are sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election. See the key dates for the 2016 election and information about the roles and responsibilities of state officials and the Congress in the Electoral College process.

Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. Members of the House and Senate meet in the House chamber to conduct the official tally of electoral votes. See the key dates for the 2016 election and information about the role and responsibilities of Congress in the Electoral College process.

The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.


Learn about the Electors


Roles and Responsibilities in the Electoral College Process

The Office of the Federal Register coordinates the functions of the Electoral College on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, the States, the Congress, and the American People. The Office of the Federal Register operates as an intermediary between the governors and secretaries of state of the States and the Congress. It also acts as a trusted agent of the Congress in the sense that it is responsible for reviewing the legal sufficiency of the certificates before the House and Senate accept them as evidence of official State action.

See the key dates for the 2016 election and information about the roles and responsibilities of state officialsthe Office of the Federal Register and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Congress in the Electoral College process.


United States Electoral College

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Map of the Electoral College for the 2016 presidential election

The United States Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution, constituted every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes is required to win an election. Pursuant to Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, the legislature of each state determines the manner by which its electors are chosen. Each state’s number of electors is equal to the combined total of the state’s membership in the Senate and House of Representatives; currently there are 100 senators and 435 representatives.[1][2][3] Additionally, the Twenty-third Amendment provides that the District of Columbia (D.C.) is entitled to a number of electors no greater than that of the least populous state (i.e. 3).[4]

Following the national presidential election day in the first week of November, each state counts its popular votes pursuant to that state’s laws to designate presidential electors. State electors meet in their respective state capitals in December to cast their votes. The results are certified by the states and D.C. to Congress, where they are tabulated nationally in the first week of January before a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives. If a majority of votes are not cast for a candidate, the House resolves itself into a presidential election session with one presidential vote assigned to each of the fifty state delegations, excluding the District of Columbia. The elected president and vice president are inaugurated on January 20. While the electoral vote has given the same result as the popular vote in most elections, this has not been the case in a few elections, including the 2000 and 2016 elections.

The Electoral College system is a matter of ongoing debate, with some defending it and others calling for its abolition. Supporters of the Electoral College argue that it is fundamental to American federalism, that it requires candidates to appeal to voters outside large cities, increases the political influence of small states, discourages the excessive growth of political parties and preserves the two-party system, and makes the electoral outcome appear more legitimate than that of a nationwide popular vote.[5] Opponents of the Electoral College argue that it can result in a person becoming president even though an opponent got more votes (which occurred in two of the five presidential elections from 2000 to 2016); that it causes candidates to focus their campaigning disproportionately in a few “swing states” while ignoring most areas of the country; and that its allocation of Electoral College votes gives citizens in less populated rural states as much as four times the voting power as those in more populous urban states.[6][7][8][9][10]Polls since 1967 have shown that a majority of Americans favor the president and vice president being elected by the nationwide popular vote, instead of by the Electoral College.[11][12]



The Constitutional Convention in 1787 used the Virginia Plan as the basis for discussions, as the Virginia proposal was the first. The Virginia Plan called for the Congress to elect the president.[13] Delegates from a majority of states agreed to this mode of election. After being debated, however, delegates came to oppose nomination by congress for the reason that it could violate the separation of powers. James Wilson then made motion for electors for the purpose of choosing the president.[14]

Later in the convention, a committee formed to work out various details including the mode of election of the president, including final recommendations for the electors, a group of people apportioned among the states in the same numbers as their representatives in Congress (the formula for which had been resolved in lengthy debates resulting in the Connecticut Compromise and Three-Fifths Compromise), but chosen by each state “in such manner as its Legislature may direct.” Committee member Gouverneur Morris explained the reasons for the change; among others, there were fears of “intrigue” if the president were chosen by a small group of men who met together regularly, as well as concerns for the independence of the president if he were elected by the Congress.[15]

However, once the Electoral College had been decided on, several delegates (Mason, Butler, Morris, Wilson, and Madison) openly recognized its ability to protect the election process from cabal, corruption, intrigue, and faction. Some delegates, including James Wilson and James Madison, preferred popular election of the executive. Madison acknowledged that while a popular vote would be ideal, it would be difficult to get consensus on the proposal given the prevalence of slavery in the South:

There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.[16]

The Convention approved the Committee’s Electoral College proposal, with minor modifications, on September 6, 1787.[17] Delegates from states with smaller populations or limited land area such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland generally favored the Electoral College with some consideration for states.[18] At the compromise providing for a runoff among the top five candidates, the small states supposed that the House of Representatives with each state delegation casting one vote would decide most elections.[19]

In The Federalist PapersJames Madison explained his views on the selection of the president and the Constitution. In Federalist No. 39, Madison argued the Constitution was designed to be a mixture of state-based and population-based government. Congress would have two houses: the state-based Senate and the population-based House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the president would be elected by a mixture of the two modes.[20]

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 68 laid out what he believed were the key advantages to the Electoral College. The electors come directly from the people and them alone for that purpose only, and for that time only. This avoided a party-run legislature, or a permanent body that could be influenced by foreign interests before each election.[21] Hamilton explained the election was to take place among all the states, so no corruption in any state could taint “the great body of the people” in their selection. The choice was to be made by a majority of the Electoral College, as majority rule is critical to the principles of republican government. Hamilton argued that electors meeting in the state capitals were able to have information unavailable to the general public. Hamilton also argued that since no federal officeholder could be an elector, none of the electors would be beholden to any presidential candidate.[21]

Another consideration was the decision would be made without “tumult and disorder” as it would be a broad-based one made simultaneously in various locales where the decision-makers could deliberate reasonably, not in one place where decision-makers could be threatened or intimidated. If the Electoral College did not achieve a decisive majority, then the House of Representatives was to choose the president from among the top five candidates,[22] ensuring selection of a presiding officer administering the laws would have both ability and good character. Hamilton was also concerned about somebody unqualified, but with a talent for “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” attaining high office.[21]

Additionally, in the Federalist No. 10, James Madison argued against “an interested and overbearing majority” and the “mischiefs of faction” in an electoral system. He defined a faction as “a number of citizens whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” What was then called republican government (i.e., representative democracy, as opposed to direct democracy) combined with the principles of federalism (with distribution of voter rights and separation of government powers) would countervail against factions. Madison further postulated in the Federalist No. 10 that the greater the population and expanse of the Republic, the more difficulty factions would face in organizing due to such issues as sectionalism.[23]

Although the United States Constitution refers to “Electors” and “electors”, neither the phrase “Electoral College” nor any other name is used to describe the electors collectively. It was not until the early 19th century the name “Electoral College” came into general usage as the collective designation for the electors selected to cast votes for president and vice president. The phrase was first written into federal law in 1845 and today the term appears in 3 U.S.C. § 4, in the section heading and in the text as “college of electors.”[24]


Historically, the state legislatures chose the electors in more than half the states. That practice changed during the early 19th century, as states extended the right to vote to wider segments of the population. By 1832, only South Carolina had not transitioned to popular election. Since 1880, the electors in every state have been chosen based on a popular election held on Election Day.[1] The popular election for electors means the president and vice president are in effect chosen through indirect election by the citizens.[25] Since the mid-19th century when all electors have been popularly chosen, the Electoral College has elected the candidate who received the most popular votes nationwide, except in four elections: 187618882000, and 2016. In 1824, there were six states in which electors were legislatively appointed, rather than popularly elected, so the true national popular vote is uncertain; the electors failed to select a winning candidate, so the matter was decided by the House of Representatives.[26]

Original plan

Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution states:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 of the Constitution states:

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution provided the original plan by which the electors voted for president. Under the original plan, each elector cast two votes for president; electors did not vote for vice president. Whoever received a majority of votes from the electors would become president, with the person receiving the second most votes becoming vice president.

The original plan of the Electoral College was based upon several assumptions and anticipations of the Framers of the Constitution:[27]

  1. Choice of the president should reflect the “sense of the people” at a particular time, not the dictates of a cabal in a “pre-established body” such as Congress or the State legislatures, and independent of the influence of “foreign powers”.[28]
  2. The choice would be made decisively with a “full and fair expression of the public will” but also maintaining “as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder”.[29]
  3. Individual electors would be elected by citizens on a district-by-district basis. Voting for president would include the widest electorate allowed in each state.[30]
  4. Each presidential elector would exercise independent judgment when voting, deliberating with the most complete information available in a system that over time, tended to bring about a good administration of the laws passed by Congress.[31]
  5. Candidates would not pair together on the same ticket with assumed placements toward each office of president and vice president.
  6. The system as designed would rarely produce a winner, thus sending the presidential election to the House of Representatives.

According to the text of Article II, however, each state government was free to have its own plan for selecting its electors, and the Constitution does not explicitly require states to popularly elect their electors. Several methods for selecting electors are described below.

Breakdown and revision

The emergence of political parties and nationally coordinated election campaigns soon complicated matters in the elections of 1796 and 1800. In 1796, Federalist Party candidate John Adams won the presidential election. Finishing in second place was Democratic-Republican Party candidate Thomas Jefferson, the Federalists’ opponent, who became the vice president. This resulted in the president and vice president being of different political parties.

In 1800, the Democratic-Republican Party again nominated Jefferson for president and also nominated Aaron Burr for vice president. After the election, Jefferson and Burr tied one another with 73 electoral votes each. Since ballots did not distinguish between votes for president and votes for vice president, every ballot cast for Burr technically counted as a vote for him to become president, despite Jefferson clearly being his party’s first choice. Lacking a clear winner by constitutional standards, the election had to be decided by the House of Representatives pursuant to the Constitution’s contingency election provision.

Having already lost the presidential contest, Federalist Party representatives in the lame duck House session seized upon the opportunity to embarrass their opposition by attempting to elect Burr over Jefferson. The House deadlocked for 35 ballots as neither candidate received the necessary majority vote of the state delegations in the House (the votes of nine states were needed for a conclusive election). Jefferson achieved electoral victory on the 36th ballot, but only after Federalist Party leader Alexander Hamilton—who disfavored Burr’s personal character more than Jefferson’s policies—had made known his preference for Jefferson.

Responding to the problems from those elections, the Congress proposed on December 9, 1803, and three-fourths of the states ratified by June 15, 1804, the Twelfth Amendment. Starting with the 1804 election, the amendment requires electors cast separate ballots for president and vice president, replacing the system outlined in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3.

Evolution to the general ticket

Alexander Hamilton described the Founding Fathers’ view of how electors would be chosen:

A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated [tasks].[32]

They assumed this would take place district by district. That plan was carried out by many states until the 1880s. For example, in Massachusetts in 1820, the rule stated “the people shall vote by ballot, on which shall be designated who is voted for as an Elector for the district.”[33] In other words, the people did not place the name of a candidate for a president on the ballot, instead they voted for their local elector, whom they trusted later to cast a responsible vote for president.

Some states reasoned that the favorite presidential candidate among the people in their state would have a much better chance if all of the electors selected by their state were sure to vote the same way—a “general ticket” of electors pledged to a party candidate.[34] So the slate of electors chosen by the state were no longer free agents, independent thinkers, or deliberative representatives. They became “voluntary party lackeys and intellectual non-entities.”[35] Once one state took that strategy, the others felt compelled to follow suit in order to compete for the strongest influence on the election.[34]

When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. According to Hamilton, the selection of the president should be “made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station [of president].”[32] According to Hamilton, the electors were to analyze the list of potential presidents and select the best one. He also used the term “deliberate”. Hamilton considered a pre-pledged elector to violate the spirit of Article II of the Constitution insofar as such electors could make no “analysis” or “deliberate” concerning the candidates. Madison agreed entirely, saying that when the Constitution was written, all of its authors assumed individual electors would be elected in their districts and it was inconceivable a “general ticket” of electors dictated by a state would supplant the concept. Madison wrote to George Hay:

The district mode was mostly, if not exclusively in view when the Constitution was framed and adopted; & was exchanged for the general ticket [many years later].[36]

The Founding Fathers assumed that electors would be elected by the citizens of their district and that elector was to be free to analyze and deliberate regarding who is best suited to be president.

Madison and Hamilton were so upset by what they saw as a distortion of the original intent that they advocated a constitutional amendment to prevent anything other than the district plan: “the election of Presidential Electors by districts, is an amendment very proper to be brought forward,” Madison told George Hay in 1823.[36] Hamilton went further. He actually drafted an amendment to the Constitution mandating the district plan for selecting electors.[37]

Evolution of selection plans

In 1789, at-large popular vote, the winner-take-all method, began with Pennsylvania and Maryland; Virginia and Delaware used a district plan by popular vote, and in the five other states participating in the election (Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and South Carolina),[38] state legislatures chose. By 1800, Virginia and Rhode Island voted at-large, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina voted popularly by district, and eleven states voted by state legislature. Beginning in 1804 there was a definite trend towards the winner-take-all system for statewide popular vote.[39]

By 1832, only South Carolina chose their electors this way, and it abandoned the method after 1860.[39] States using popular vote by district have included ten states from all regions of the country. By 1832, there was only Maryland, and from 1836 district plans fell out of use until the 20th century, though Michigan used a district plan for 1892 only.[40]

Since 1836, statewide winner-take-all popular voting for electors has been the almost universal practice. As of 2016, Maine (from 1972) and Nebraska (from 1996) use the district plan, with two at-large electors assigned to support the winner of the statewide popular vote.[41]

Fourteenth Amendment

Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment allows for a state’s representation in the House of Representatives to be reduced if a state unconstitutionally denies people the right to vote. The reduction is in keeping with the proportion of people denied a vote. This amendment refers to “the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States” among other elections, the only place in the Constitution mentioning electors being selected by popular vote.

On May 8, 1866, during a debate on the Fourteenth Amendment, Thaddeus Stevens, the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, delivered a speech on the amendment’s intent. Regarding Section 2, he said:[42]

The second section I consider the most important in the article. It fixes the basis of representation in Congress. If any State shall exclude any of her adult male citizens from the elective franchise, or abridge that right, she shall forfeit her right to representation in the same proportion. The effect of this provision will be either to compel the States to grant universal suffrage or so shear them of their power as to keep them forever in a hopeless minority in the national Government, both legislative and executive.[43]

Federal law (2 U.S.C. § 6) implements Section 2’s mandate.

Meeting of electors

Since 1936, federal law has provided that the electors in all the states and the District of Columbia, meet “on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment” to vote for president and vice president.[44][45]

Under Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, all elected and appointed federal officials are prohibited from being electors. The Office of the Federal Register is charged with administering the Electoral College.[46]

After the vote, each state then sends a certified record of their electoral votes to Congress. The votes of the electors are opened during a joint session of Congress, held in the first week of January, and read aloud by the incumbent vice president, acting in his capacity as President of the Senate. If any person received an absolute majority of electoral votes that person is declared the winner.[47] If there is a tie, or if no candidate for either or both offices receives a majority, then choice falls to Congress in a procedure known as contingent election.

Modern mechanics

The 2012 Certificate of Vote issued by Maryland’s delegation to the Electoral College


Even though the aggregate national popular vote is calculated by state officials, media organizations, and the Federal Election Commission, the people only indirectly elect the president, as the national popular vote is not the basis for electing the president or vice president. The president and vice president of the United States are elected by the Electoral College, which consists of 538 presidential electors from the fifty states and Washington, D.C.Presidential electors are selected on a state-by-state basis, as determined by the laws of each state. Since the election of 1824,[48] most states have appointed their electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election DayMaine and Nebraska are the only two current exceptions, as both states use the congressional district method. Although ballots list the names of the presidential and vice presidential candidates (who run on a ticket), voters actually choose electors when they vote for president and vice president. These presidential electors in turn cast electoral votes for those two offices. Electors usually pledge to vote for their party’s nominee, but some “faithless electors” have voted for other candidates or refrained from voting.

A candidate must receive an absolute majority of electoral votes (currently 270) to win the presidency or the vice presidency. If no candidate receives a majority in the election for president or vice president, the election is determined via a contingency procedure established by the Twelfth Amendment. In such a situation, the House chooses one of the top three presidential electoral vote-winners as the president, while the Senate chooses one of the top two vice presidential electoral vote-winners as vice president.



State population per electoral vote for the 50 states and Washington D.C.

A state’s number of electors equals the number of representatives plus two electors for both senators the state has in the United States Congress.[49][50] The number of representatives is based on the respective populations, determined every 10 years by the United States Census. Each representative represents on average 711,000 persons.[51]

Under the Twenty-third AmendmentWashington, D.C., is allocated as many electors as it would have if it were a state, but no more electors than the least populous state. The least populous state (which is Wyoming, according to the 2010 census) has three electors; thus, D.C. cannot have more than three electors. Even if D.C. were a state, its population would entitle it to only three electors; based on its population per electoral vote, D.C. has the second highest per capita Electoral College representation, after Wyoming.[52]

Currently, there are 538 electors; based on 435 representatives, 100 senators, and three electors allocated to Washington, D.C. The six states with the most electors are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (20), and Pennsylvania (20). The seven least populous states—AlaskaDelawareMontanaNorth DakotaSouth DakotaVermont, and Wyoming—have three electors each. This is because each of these states has one representative and two senators.


The custom of allowing recognized political parties to select a slate of prospective electors developed early. In contemporary practice, each presidential-vice presidential ticket has an associated slate of potential electors. Then on Election Day, the voters select a ticket and thereby select the associated electors.[1]

Candidates for elector are nominated by state chapters of nationally oriented political parties in the months prior to Election Day. In some states, the electors are nominated by voters in primaries, the same way other presidential candidates are nominated. In some states, such as OklahomaVirginia and North Carolina, electors are nominated in party conventions. In Pennsylvania, the campaign committee of each candidate names their respective electoral college candidates (an attempt to discourage faithless electors). Varying by state, electors may also be elected by state legislatures, or appointed by the parties themselves.[53]


Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution requires each state legislature to determine how electors for the state are to be chosen, but it disqualifies any person holding a federal office, either elected or appointed, from being an elector.[54] Under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, any person who has sworn an oath to support the United States Constitution in order to hold either a state or federal office, and later rebelled against the United States directly or by giving assistance to those doing so, is disqualified from being an elector. However, the Congress may remove this disqualification by a two-thirds vote in each House.

Since the Civil War, all states have chosen presidential electors by popular vote. This process has been normalized to the point the names of the electors appear on the ballot in only eight states: Rhode Island, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona, Idaho, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota.[55][56]

Since 1996, all but two states have followed the winner takes all method of allocating electors by which every person named on the slate for the ticket winning the statewide popular vote are named as presidential electors.[57][58] Maine and Nebraska are the only states not using this method. In those states, the winner of the popular vote in each of its congressional districts is awarded one elector, and the winner of the statewide vote is then awarded the state’s remaining two electors.[57][59]

The Tuesday following the first Monday in November has been fixed as the day for holding federal elections, called the Election Day.[60] In 48 states and Washington, D.C., the “winner-takes-all method” is used (electors selected as a single bloc). Maine and Nebraska use the “congressional district method”, selecting one elector within each congressional district by popular vote and selecting the remaining two electors by a statewide popular vote. This method has been used in Maine since 1972 and in Nebraska since 1996.[61]

The current system of choosing electors is called the “short ballot”. In most states, voters choose a slate of electors, and only a few states list on the ballot the names of proposed electors. In some states, if a voter wants to write in a candidate for president, the voter is also required to write in the names of proposed electors.

After the election, each state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment, each listing the candidates for president and vice president, their pledged electors, and the total votes each candidacy received.[62] One certificate is sent, as soon after Election Day as practicable, to the National Archivist in Washington D.C. The Certificates of Ascertainment are mandated to carry the State Seal, and the signature of the Governor (in the case of the District of Columbia, the Certificate is signed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia.[63])


Certificate for the electoral votes for Rutherford B. Hayes and William A. Wheeler for the State of Louisiana (1876)

The Electoral College never meets as one body. Electors meet in their respective state capitals (electors for the District of Columbia meet within the District) on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, at which time they cast their electoral votes on separate ballots for president and vice president.[64][65][66]

Although procedures in each state vary slightly, the electors generally follow a similar series of steps, and the Congress has constitutional authority to regulate the procedures the states follow. The meeting is opened by the election certification official – often that state’s secretary of state or equivalent – who reads the Certificate of Ascertainment. This document sets forth who was chosen to cast the electoral votes. The attendance of the electors is taken and any vacancies are noted in writing. The next step is the selection of a president or chairman of the meeting, sometimes also with a vice chairman. The electors sometimes choose a secretary, often not himself an elector, to take the minutes of the meeting. In many states, political officials give short speeches at this point in the proceedings.

When the time for balloting arrives, the electors choose one or two people to act as tellers. Some states provide for the placing in nomination of a candidate to receive the electoral votes (the candidate for president of the political party of the electors). Each elector submits a written ballot with the name of a candidate for president. In New Jersey, the electors cast ballots by checking the name of the candidate on a pre-printed card; in North Carolina, the electors write the name of the candidate on a blank card. The tellers count the ballots and announce the result. The next step is the casting of the vote for vice president, which follows a similar pattern.

Each state’s electors must complete six Certificates of Vote. Each Certificate of Vote must be signed by all of the electors and a Certificate of Ascertainment must be attached to each of the Certificates of Vote. Each Certificate of Vote must include the names of those who received an electoral vote for either the office of president or of vice president. The electors certify the Certificates of Vote and copies of the Certificates are then sent in the following fashion:[67]

A staff member of the President of the Senate collects the Certificates of Vote as they arrive and prepares them for the joint session of the Congress. The Certificates are arranged – unopened – in alphabetical order and placed in two special mahogany boxes. Alabama through Missouri (including the District of Columbia) are placed in one box and Montana through Wyoming are placed in the other box.[68] Before 1950, the Secretary of State’s office oversaw the certifications, but since then the Office of Federal Register in the Archivist’s office reviews them to make sure the documents sent to the archive and Congress match and that all formalities have been followed, sometimes requiring states to correct the documents.[46]


An elector may vote for whomever he or she wishes for each office provided that at least one of their votes (president or vice president) is for a person who is not a resident of the same state as themselves.[69] But “faithless electors” are those who either cast electoral votes for someone other than the candidate of the party that they pledged to vote for or who abstain. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws to punish faithless electors, although none have ever been enforced. Many constitutional scholars claim that state restrictions would be struck down if challenged based on Article II and the Twelfth Amendment.[70] In 1952, the constitutionality of state pledge laws was brought before the Supreme Court in Ray v. Blair343 U.S. 214 (1952).

Some states, however, do have laws requiring that state’s electors to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged. Electors who break their pledge are called “faithless electors.” Only once, in 1836, has an election’s outcome been influenced by faithless electors. In that instance, Virginia’s 23 electors were pledged to vote for Richard Mentor Johnson to be vice-president, but instead voted for former South Carolina senator William Smith, leaving Johnson one vote short of the majority needed to be elected. In accordance with the Twelfth Amendment, the Senate then chose between the top two receivers of electoral votes for vice-president, electing Johnson on the first ballot. Over the course of 58 presidential elections since 1789, only 0.67% of all electors have been unfaithful.[71]

The Court ruled in favor of state laws requiring electors to pledge to vote for the winning candidate, as well as removing electors who refuse to pledge. As stated in the ruling, electors are acting as a functionary of the state, not the federal government. Therefore, states have the right to govern the process of choosing electors. The constitutionality of state laws punishing electors for actually casting a faithless vote, rather than refusing to pledge, has never been decided by the Supreme Court. However, in his dissent in Ray v. Blair, Justice Robert Jackson wrote: “no one faithful to our history can deny that the plan originally contemplated what is implicit in its text—that electors would be free agents, to exercise an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the men best qualified for the Nation’s highest offices.”

While many laws punish a faithless elector only after the fact, states like Michigan also specify a faithless elector’s vote be voided.[72]

As electoral slates are typically chosen by the political party or the party’s presidential nominee, electors usually have high loyalty to the party and its candidate: a faithless elector runs a greater risk of party censure than of criminal charges.

In 2000, elector Barbara Lett-Simmons of Washington, D.C., chose not to vote, rather than voting for Al Gore as she had pledged to do.[73] In 2016, seven electors voted contrary to their pledges. Faithless electors have never changed the outcome of any presidential election.[74]

Joint session of Congress

The Twelfth Amendment mandates Congress assemble in joint session to count the electoral votes and declare the winners of the election.[75] The session is ordinarily required to take place on January 6 in the calendar year immediately following the meetings of the presidential electors.[76] Since the Twentieth Amendment, the newly elected Congress declares the winner of the election; all elections before 1936 were determined by the outgoing House.

The Office of the Federal Register is charged with administering the Electoral College.[46] The meeting is held at 1 p.m. in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.[76] The sitting vice president is expected to preside, but in several cases the president pro tempore of the Senate has chaired the proceedings. The vice president and the Speaker of the House sit at the podium, with the vice president in the seat of the Speaker of the House. Senate pages bring in the two mahogany boxes containing each state’s certified vote and place them on tables in front of the senators and representatives. Each house appoints two tellers to count the vote (normally one member of each political party). Relevant portions of the Certificate of Vote are read for each state, in alphabetical order.

Members of Congress can object to any state’s vote count, provided objection is presented in writing and is signed by at least one member of each house of Congress. An objection supported by at least one senator and one representative will be followed by the suspension of the joint session and by separate debates and votes in each House of Congress; after both Houses deliberate on the objection, the joint session is resumed. A state’s certificate of vote can be rejected only if both Houses of Congress vote to accept the objection. In that case, the votes from the State in question are simply ignored. The votes of Arkansas and Louisiana were rejected in the presidential election of 1872.[77]

Objections to the electoral vote count are rarely raised, although it did occur during the vote count in 2001 after the close 2000 presidential election between Governor George W. Bush of Texas and the vice president of the United States, Al Gore. Gore, who as vice president was required to preside over his own Electoral College defeat (by five electoral votes), denied the objections, all of which were raised by only several representatives and would have favored his candidacy, after no senators would agree to jointly object. Objections were again raised in the vote count of the 2004 elections, and on that occasion the document was presented by one representative and one senator. Although the joint session was suspended, the objections were quickly disposed of and rejected by both Houses of Congress. If there are no objections or all objections are overruled, the presiding officer simply includes a state’s votes, as declared in the certificate of vote, in the official tally.

After the certificates from all states are read and the respective votes are counted, the presiding officer simply announces the final result of the vote and, provided the required absolute majority of votes was achieved, declares the names of the persons elected president and vice president. This announcement concludes the joint session and formalizes the recognition of the president-elect and of the vice president-elect. The senators then depart from the House Chamber. The final tally is printed in the Senate and House journals.


Contingent presidential election by House

The Twelfth Amendment requires the House of Representatives to go into session immediately to vote for a president if no candidate for president receives a majority of the electoral votes (since 1964, 270 of the 538 electoral votes).

In this event, the House of Representatives is limited to choosing from among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes for president. Each state delegation votes en bloc—each delegation having a single vote; the District of Columbia does not get to vote. A candidate must receive an absolute majority of state delegation votes (i.e., at present, a minimum of 26 votes) in order for that candidate to become the president-elect. Additionally, delegations from at least two thirds of all the states must be present for voting to take place. The House continues balloting until it elects a president.

The House of Representatives has chosen the president only twice: in 1801 under Article II, Section 1, Clause 3; and in 1825 under the Twelfth Amendment.

Contingent vice presidential election by Senate

If no candidate for vice president receives an absolute majority of electoral votes, then the Senate must go into session to elect a vice president. The Senate is limited to choosing from the two candidates who received the most electoral votes for vice president. Normally this would mean two candidates, one less than the number of candidates available in the House vote. However, the text is written in such a way that all candidates with the most and second most electoral votes are eligible for the Senate election – this number could theoretically be larger than two. The Senate votes in the normal manner in this case (i.e., ballots are individually cast by each senator, not by state delegations). However, two-thirds of the senators must be present for voting to take place.

Additionally, the Twelfth Amendment states a “majority of the whole number” of senators (currently 51 of 100) is necessary for election.[78] Further, the language requiring an absolute majority of Senate votes precludes the sitting vice president from breaking any tie that might occur,[79] although some academics and journalists have speculated to the contrary.[80]

The only time the Senate chose the vice president was in 1837. In that instance, the Senate adopted an alphabetical roll call and voting aloud. The rules further stated, “[I]f a majority of the number of senators shall vote for either the said Richard M. Johnson or Francis Granger, he shall be declared by the presiding officer of the Senate constitutionally elected Vice President of the United States”; the Senate chose Johnson.[81]

Deadlocked election

Section 3 of the Twentieth Amendment specifies if the House of Representatives has not chosen a president-elect in time for the inauguration (noon EST on January 20), then the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House selects a president. Section 3 also specifies Congress may statutorily provide for who will be acting president if there is neither a president-elect nor a vice president-elect in time for the inauguration. Under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House would become acting president until either the House selects a president or the Senate selects a vice president. Neither of these situations has ever occurred.

Current electoral vote distribution

Electoral votes (EV) allocations for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.[82]
Triangular markers (IncreaseDecrease) indicate gains or losses following the 2010 Census.[83]
EV × States States*
55 × 1 = 55 California
38 × 1 = 38 IncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseTexas
29 × 2 = 58 IncreaseIncreaseFlorida, DecreaseDecreaseNew York
20 × 2 = 40 DecreaseIllinois, DecreasePennsylvania
18 × 1 = 18 DecreaseDecreaseOhio
16 × 2 = 32 IncreaseGeorgia, DecreaseMichigan
15 × 1 = 15 North Carolina
14 × 1 = 14 DecreaseNew Jersey
13 × 1 = 13 Virginia
12 × 1 = 12 IncreaseWashington
11 × 4 = 44 IncreaseArizona, Indiana, DecreaseMassachusetts, Tennessee
10 × 4 = 40 Maryland, Minnesota, DecreaseMissouri, Wisconsin
9 × 3 = 27 Alabama, Colorado, IncreaseSouth Carolina
8 × 2 = 16 Kentucky, DecreaseLouisiana
7 × 3 = 21 Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon
6 × 6 = 36 Arkansas, DecreaseIowa, Kansas, Mississippi, IncreaseNevada, IncreaseUtah
5 × 3 = 15 Nebraska**, New Mexico, West Virginia
4 × 5 = 20 Hawaii, Idaho, Maine**, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
3 × 8 = 24 Alaska, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming
= 538 Total electors
The Twenty-third Amendment grants electors to DC as if it were a state, but not more than the least populous state. This has always been three.
** Maine’s four electors and Nebraska’s five are distributed using the Congressional district method.

Chronological table

Number of presidential electors by state and year
1788–1800 1804–1900 1904–2000 2004–
’88 ’92 ’96
’12 ’16 ’20 ’24
’32 ’36
’44 ’48 ’52
’60 ’64 ’68 ’72 ’76
’92 ’96
’04 ’08 ’12
’60 ’64
# Total 81 135 138 176 218 221 235 261 288 294 275 290 296 303 234 294 366 369 401 444 447 476 483 531 537 538
22 Alabama 3 5 7 7 9 9 9 9 0 8 10 10 10 11 11 11 11 12 11 11 11 11 10 9 9 9 9 9
49 Alaska 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
48 Arizona 3 3 4 4 4 5 6 7 8 10 11
25 Arkansas 3 3 3 4 4 0 5 6 6 7 8 8 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 6 6 6 6 6 6
31 California 4 4 5 5 6 6 8 9 9 10 10 13 22 25 32 32 40 45 47 54 55 55
38 Colorado 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 8 8 9 9
5 Connecticut 7 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7
D.C. 3 3 3 3 3 3
1 Delaware 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
27 Florida 3 3 3 0 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 6 7 8 10 10 14 17 21 25 27 29
4 Georgia 5 4 4 6 8 8 8 9 11 11 10 10 10 10 0 9 11 11 12 13 13 13 13 14 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 13 15 16
50 Hawaii 3 4 4 4 4 4 4
43 Idaho 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
21 Illinois 3 3 5 5 9 9 11 11 16 16 21 21 22 24 24 27 27 29 29 28 27 27 26 26 24 22 21 20
19 Indiana 3 3 5 9 9 12 12 13 13 13 13 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 14 13 13 13 13 13 12 12 11 11
29 Iowa 4 4 4 8 8 11 11 13 13 13 13 13 13 11 10 10 10 9 8 8 7 7 6
34 Kansas 3 3 5 5 9 10 10 10 10 10 9 8 8 8 7 7 7 6 6 6
15 Kentucky 4 4 8 12 12 12 14 15 15 12 12 12 12 11 11 12 12 13 13 13 13 13 13 11 11 10 10 9 9 9 8 8 8
18 Louisiana 3 3 3 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 0 7 8 8 8 8 8 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 9 8
23 Maine 9 9 10 10 9 9 8 8 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 4
7 Maryland 8 10 10 11 11 11 11 11 10 10 8 8 8 8 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10
6 Massachusetts 10 16 16 19 22 22 15 15 14 14 12 12 13 13 12 12 13 13 14 15 15 16 16 18 17 16 16 16 14 14 13 12 12 11
26 Michigan 3 5 5 6 6 8 8 11 11 13 14 14 14 14 15 19 19 20 20 21 21 20 18 17 16
32 Minnesota 4 4 4 5 5 7 9 9 11 11 12 11 11 11 11 10 10 10 10 10 10
20 Mississippi 3 3 4 4 6 6 7 7 0 0 8 8 9 9 9 10 10 10 9 9 8 8 7 7 7 7 6 6
24 Missouri 3 3 4 4 7 7 9 9 11 11 15 15 16 17 17 18 18 18 15 15 13 13 12 12 11 11 11 10
41 Montana 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3
37 Nebraska 3 3 3 5 8 8 8 8 8 7 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5
36 Nevada 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 6
9 New Hampshire 5 6 6 7 8 8 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
3 New Jersey 6 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 7 7 7 7 9 9 9 10 10 12 12 14 16 16 16 16 17 17 16 15 15 14
47 New Mexico 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5
11 New York 8 12 12 19 29 29 29 36 42 42 36 36 35 35 33 33 35 35 36 36 36 39 39 45 47 47 45 45 43 41 36 33 31 29
12 North Carolina 12 12 14 15 15 15 15 15 15 11 11 10 10 0 9 10 10 11 11 11 12 12 12 13 14 14 14 13 13 13 14 15 15
39 North Dakota 3 3 4 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 3
17 Ohio 3 8 8 8 16 21 21 23 23 23 23 21 21 22 22 23 23 23 23 23 24 26 25 25 25 26 25 23 21 20 18
46 Oklahoma 7 10 11 10 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7
33 Oregon 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 7 7
2 Pennsylvania 10 15 15 20 25 25 25 28 30 30 26 26 27 27 26 26 29 29 30 32 32 34 34 38 36 35 32 32 29 27 25 23 21 20
13 Rhode Island 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
8 South Carolina 7 8 8 10 11 11 11 11 11 11 9 9 8 8 0 6 7 7 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 9
40 South Dakota 4 4 4 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3
16 Tennessee 3 5 8 8 8 11 15 15 13 13 12 12 0 10 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 11 12 11 11 11 10 11 11 11 11
28 Texas 4 4 4 0 0 8 8 13 15 15 18 18 20 23 23 24 24 25 26 29 32 34 38
45 Utah 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 6
14 Vermont 4 4 6 8 8 8 7 7 7 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
10 Virginia 12 21 21 24 25 25 25 24 23 23 17 17 15 15 0 0 11 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 11 11 12 12 12 12 12 13 13 13
42 Washington 4 4 5 5 7 8 8 9 9 9 9 10 11 11 12
35 West Virginia 5 5 5 5 6 6 6 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 7 6 6 5 5 5
30 Wisconsin 4 5 5 8 8 10 10 11 12 12 13 13 13 12 12 12 12 12 11 11 11 10 10
44 Wyoming 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
# Total 81 135 138 176 218 221 235 261 288 294 275 290 296 303 234 294 366 369 401 444 447 476 483 531 537 538

Source: Presidential Elections 1789–2000 at Psephos (Adam Carr’s Election Archive)
Note: In 1788, 1792, 1796, and 1800, each elector cast two votes for president.

Number of electors from each state for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections in which 12 electoral votes changed between 18 states, based on the 2010 census, eight states lost one electoral vote and two (New York and Ohio) each lost two electoral votes while eight states gained electoral votes, six gained one electoral vote, Florida gained two and Texas gained four

Alternative methods of choosing electors

Methods of presidential elector selection, by state, 1789–1832[84]
1789 L D L A H H L A L D
1792 L L L D A H H L L L A L L L D
1796 L L A D D H H L L D A L L H L D
1800 L L L D D L L L L D L A L H L A
1804 L L L D D D A A L D A A A L D L A
1808 L L L D D L A A L D A A A L D L A
1812 L L L D L D D A L L L A A A L D L A
1816 L L L L D L D L A A L A A A A L D L A
1820 L A L L D L D L D D D A L A A L A A A A L D L A
1824 A A L L D A D L D D A A D A A L A A A A L D L A
1828 A A L A A A A A D D A A A A A D A A A A L D A A
1832 A A A A A A A A A D A A A A A A A A A A L A A A
Key A Popular vote, At-large D Popular vote, Districting L Legislative selection H Hybrid system

Before the advent of the short ballot in the early 20th century, as described above, the most common means of electing the presidential electors was through the general ticket. The general ticket is quite similar to the current system and is often confused with it. In the general ticket, voters cast ballots for individuals running for presidential elector (while in the short ballot, voters cast ballots for an entire slate of electors). In the general ticket, the state canvass would report the number of votes cast for each candidate for elector, a complicated process in states like New York with multiple positions to fill. Both the general ticket and the short ballot are often considered at-large or winner-takes-all voting. The short ballot was adopted by the various states at different times; it was adopted for use by North Carolina and Ohio in 1932. Alabama was still using the general ticket as late as 1960 and was one of the last states to switch to the short ballot.

The question of the extent to which state constitutions may constrain the legislature’s choice of a method of choosing electors has been touched on in two U.S. Supreme Court cases. In McPherson v. Blacker146 U.S. 1 (1892), the Court cited Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 which states that a state’s electors are selected “in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct” and wrote these words “operat[e] as a limitation upon the state in respect of any attempt to circumscribe the legislative power”. In Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board531 U.S. 70 (2000), a Florida Supreme Court decision was vacated (not reversed) based on McPherson. On the other hand, three dissenting justices in Bush v. Gore531 U.S. 98 (2000), wrote: “[N]othing in Article II of the Federal Constitution frees the state legislature from the constraints in the State Constitution that created it.”[85]

Appointment by state legislature

In the earliest presidential elections, state legislative choice was the most common method of choosing electors. A majority of the state legislatures selected presidential electors in both 1792 (9 of 15) and 1800 (10 of 16), and half of them did so in 1812.[86] Even in the 1824 election, a quarter of state legislatures (6 of 24) chose electors. In that election, Andrew Jackson lost in spite of having pluralities of both the popular and electoral votes,[87] with the outcome being decided by the six state legislatures choosing the electors. Some state legislatures simply chose electors, while other states used a hybrid method in which state legislatures chose from a group of electors elected by popular vote.[88] By 1828, with the rise of Jacksonian democracy, only Delaware and South Carolina used legislative choice.[87] Delaware ended its practice the following election (1832), while South Carolina continued using the method until it seceded from the Union in December 1860.[87] South Carolina used the popular vote for the first time in the 1868 election.[89]

Excluding South Carolina, legislative appointment was used in only four situations after 1832:

  • In 1848, Massachusetts statute awarded the state’s electoral votes to the winner of the at-large popular vote, but only if that candidate won an absolute majority. When the vote produced no winner between the DemocraticFree Soil, and Whig parties, the state legislature selected the electors, giving all 12 electoral votes to the Whigs.[90]
  • In 1864, Nevada, having joined the Union only a few days prior to Election Day, had no choice but to legislatively appoint.[90]
  • In 1868, the newly reconstructed state of Florida legislatively appointed its electors, having been readmitted too late to hold elections.[90]
  • Finally, in 1876, the legislature of the newly admitted state of Colorado used legislative choice due to a lack of time and money to hold a popular election.[90]

Legislative appointment was brandished as a possibility in the 2000 election. Had the recount continued, the Florida legislature was prepared to appoint the Republican slate of electors to avoid missing the federal safe-harbor deadline for choosing electors.[91]

The Constitution gives each state legislature the power to decide how its state’s electors are chosen[87] and it can be easier and cheaper for a state legislature to simply appoint a slate of electors than to create a legislative framework for holding elections to determine the electors. As noted above, the two situations in which legislative choice has been used since the Civil War have both been because there was not enough time or money to prepare for an election. However, appointment by state legislature can have negative consequences: bicameral legislatures can deadlock more easily than the electorate. This is precisely what happened to New York in 1789 when the legislature failed to appoint any electors.[92]

Electoral districts

Another method used early in U.S. history was to divide the state into electoral districts. By this method, voters in each district would cast their ballots for the electors they supported and the winner in each district would become the elector. This was similar to how states are currently separated by congressional districts. However, the difference stems from the fact every state always had two more electoral districts than congressional districts. As with congressional districts, moreover, this method is vulnerable to gerrymandering.

Proportional vote

Under such a system, electors would be selected in proportion to the votes cast for their candidate or party, rather than being selected by the statewide plurality vote.[93]

Congressional district method

There are two versions of the congressional district method: one has been implemented in Maine and Nebraska; another has been proposed in Virginia. Under the implemented congressional district method, the electoral votes are distributed based on the popular vote winner within each of the states’ congressional districts; the statewide popular vote winner receives two additional electoral votes.[94]

In 2013, a different version of the congressional district method was proposed in Virginia. This version would distribute Virginia’s electoral votes based on the popular vote winner within each of Virginia’s congressional districts; the two statewide electoral votes would be awarded based on which candidate won the most congressional districts, rather than on who won Virginia’s statewide popular vote.[95]

The congressional district method can more easily be implemented than other alternatives to the winner-takes-all method, in view of major party resistance to relatively enabling third parties under the proportional method. State legislation is sufficient to use this method.[96]Advocates of the congressional district method believe the system would encourage higher voter turnout and incentivize presidential candidates to broaden their campaigns in non-competitive states.[97] Winner-take-all systems ignore thousands of popular votes; in Democratic California there are Republican districts, in Republican Texas there are Democratic districts. Because candidates have an incentive to campaign in competitive districts, with a district plan, candidates have an incentive to actively campaign in over thirty states versus seven “swing” states.[98][99] Opponents of the system, however, argue candidates might only spend time in certain battleground districts instead of the entire state and cases of gerrymandering could become exacerbated as political parties attempt to draw as many safe districts as they can.[100]

Unlike simple congressional district comparisons, the district plan popular vote bonus in the 2008 election would have given Obama 56% of the Electoral College versus the 68% he did win; it “would have more closely approximated the percentage of the popular vote won [53%]”.[101]


Of the 43 multi-district states whose 514 electoral votes could be affected by the congressional district method, only Maine (4 EV) and Nebraska (5 EV) currently utilize this allocation method.[102] Maine began using the congressional district method in the election of 1972. Nebraska has used the congressional district method since the election of 1992.[103][104] Michigan used the system for the 1892 presidential election,[94][105][106] and several other states used various forms of the district plan before 1840: Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, and New York.[107]

The congressional district method allows a state the chance to split its electoral votes between multiple candidates. Prior to 2008, neither Maine nor Nebraska had ever split their electoral votes.[94] Nebraska split its electoral votes for the first time in 2008, giving John McCain its statewide electors and those of two congressional districts, while Barack Obama won the electoral vote of Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district.[108] Following the 2008 split, some Nebraska Republicans made efforts to discard the congressional district method and return to the winner-takes-all system.[109] In January 2010, a bill was introduced in the Nebraska legislature to revert to a winner-take-all system;[110] the bill died in committee in March 2011.[111] Republicans had also passed bills in 1995 and 1997 to eliminate the congressional district method in Nebraska, but those bills were vetoed by Democratic Governor Ben Nelson.[109]

In 2010, Republicans in Pennsylvania, who controlled both houses of the legislature as well as the governorship, put forward a plan to change the state’s winner-takes-all system to a congressional district method system. Pennsylvania had voted for the Democratic candidate in the five previous presidential elections, so some saw this as an attempt to take away Democratic electoral votes. Although Democrat Barack Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008, he won only 55% of Pennsylvania’s popular vote. The district plan would have awarded him 11 of its 21 electoral votes, a 52.4% that is closer to the popular vote yet still overcoming Republican gerrymandering.[112][113] The plan later lost support.[114] Other Republicans, including Michigan state representative Pete Lund,[115] RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have floated similar ideas.[116][117]

Contemporary issues

Arguments between proponents and opponents of the current electoral system include four separate but related topics: indirect election, disproportionate voting power by some states, the winner-takes-all distribution method (as chosen by 48 of the 50 states), and federalism. Arguments against the Electoral College in common discussion focus mostly on the allocation of the voting power among the states. Gary Bugh’s research of congressional debates over proposed constitutional amendments to abolish the Electoral College reveals reform opponents have often appealed to a traditional republican version of representation, whereas reform advocates have tended to reference a more democratic view.[118][119][120] The United States is a federal republic, and moreover the Founding Fathersargued strongly against direct democracy, considering it at best mob rule, and at worse, devolving into oligarchy.[citation needed]


Nondeterminacy of popular vote

This graphic demonstrates how the winner of the popular vote can still lose in a hypothetical electoral college system

A bar graph of popular votes in presidential elections (through 2016), with black stars marking the five elections in which the winner did not have the plurality of the popular vote; black squares mark the cases where the electoral vote resulted in a tie, or the winner did not have the majority of electoral votes; an H marks the two cases where the election was decided by the House; and an S marks the one case where the election was finalized by the Supreme Court

The elections of 187618882000, and 2016 produced an Electoral College winner who did not receive at least a plurality of the nationwide popular vote.[121] In 1824, there were six states in which electors were legislatively appointed, rather than popularly elected, so it is uncertain what the national popular vote would have been if all presidential electors had been popularly elected. When no candidate received a majority of electoral votes in 1824, the election was decided by the House of Representatives and so could be considered distinct from the latter four elections in which all of the states had popular selection of electors.[122] The true national popular vote was also uncertain in the 1960 election, and the plurality for the winner depends on how votes for Alabama electors are allocated.[123]

Opponents of the Electoral College claim such outcomes do not logically follow the normative concept of how a democratic system should function. One view is the Electoral College violates the principle of political equality, since presidential elections are not decided by the one-person one-vote principle.[121] Outcomes of this sort are attributable to the federal nature of the system. Supporters of the Electoral College argue candidates must build a popular base that is geographically broader and more diverse in voter interests than either a simple national plurality or majority. Neither is this feature attributable to having intermediate elections of presidents, caused instead by the winner-takes-all method of allocating each state’s slate of electors. Allocation of electors in proportion to the state’s popular vote could reduce this effect.

Proponents of a national popular vote point out that the combined population of the 50 biggest cities (not including metropolitan areas) amounts to only 15% of the population,[124][125] although on a Metropolitan Statistical Area basis, the top 50 cities in 2017 comprise over 179 million people amounting to 55% of the U.S. population.[126] They also assert that candidates in popular vote elections for governor and U.S. Senate, and for statewide allocation of electoral votes, do not ignore voters in less populated areas.[127][better source needed] In addition, it is already possible to win the required 270 electoral votes by winning only the 11 most populous states; what currently prevents such a result is the organic political diversity between those states (three reliably Republican states, four swing states, and four reliably Democratic states), not any inherent quality of the Electoral College itself.[128]

Comparison of the four elections in which the Electoral College winner lost the popular vote

Elections where the winning candidate loses the national popular vote typically result when the winner builds the requisite configuration of states (and thus captures their electoral votes) by small margins, but the losing candidate secures large voter margins in the remaining states. In this case, the very large margins secured by the losing candidate in the other states would aggregate to a plurality of the ballots cast nationally. However, commentators question the legitimacy of this national popular vote. They point out that the national popular vote observed under the Electoral College system does not reflect the popular vote observed under a National Popular Vote system, as each electoral institution produces different incentives for, and strategy choices by, presidential campaigns.[129][130] Because the national popular vote is irrelevant under the electoral college system, it is generally presumed that candidates base their campaign strategies around the existence of the Electoral College; any close race has candidates campaigning to maximize electoral votes by focusing their get-out-the-vote efforts in crucially needed swing states and not attempting to maximize national popular vote totals by using finite campaign resources to run up margins or close up gaps in states considered “safe” for themselves or their opponents, respectively. Conversely, the institutional structure of a national popular vote system would encourage candidates to pursue voter turnout wherever votes could be found, even in “safe” states they are already expected to win, and in “safe” states they have no hope of winning.

Exclusive focus on large swing states

These maps show the amount of attention given to each state by the Bush and Kerry campaigns during the final five weeks of the 2004 election—at the top, each waving hand represents a visit from a presidential or vice presidential candidate during the final five weeks; and at the bottom, each dollar sign represents one million dollars spent on TV advertising by the campaigns during the same time period[131]

According to this criticism, the Electoral College encourages political campaigners to focus on a few so-called “swing states” while ignoring the rest of the country. Populous states in which pre-election poll results show no clear favorite are inundated with campaign visits, saturation television advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts by party organizers and debates, while “four out of five” voters in the national election are “absolutely ignored”, according to one assessment.[132] Since most states use a winner-takes-all arrangement in which the candidate with the most votes in that state receives all of the state’s electoral votes, there is a clear incentive to focus almost exclusively on only a few key undecided states; in recent elections, these states have included PennsylvaniaOhio, and Florida in 2004 and 2008, and also Colorado in 2012. In contrast, states with large populations such as CaliforniaTexas, and New York, have in recent elections been considered “safe” for a particular party—Democratic for California and New York and Republican for Texas—and therefore campaigns spend less time and money there. Many small states are also considered to be “safe” for one of the two political parties and are also generally ignored by campaigners: of the 13 smallest states, six are reliably Democratic, six are reliably Republican, and only New Hampshire is considered as a swing state, according to critic George C. Edwards III in 2011.[121] Edwards also asserted that in the 2008 election, the campaigns did not mount nationwide efforts but rather focused on select states.[121]

Discouragement of turnout and participation

Except in closely fought swing states, voter turnout is largely insignificant due to entrenched political party domination in most states. The Electoral College decreases the advantage a political party or campaign might gain for encouraging voters to turn out, except in those swing states.[133] If the presidential election were decided by a national popular vote, in contrast, campaigns and parties would have a strong incentive to work to increase turnout everywhere.[134] Individuals would similarly have a stronger incentive to persuade their friends and neighbors to turn out to vote. The differences in turnout between swing states and non-swing states under the current electoral college system suggest that replacing the Electoral College with direct election by popular vote would likely increase turnout and participation significantly.[133]

Obscuring disenfranchisement within states

According to this criticism, the electoral college reduces elections to a mere count of electors for a particular state, and, as a result, it obscures any voting problems within a particular state. For example, if a particular state blocks some groups from voting, perhaps by voter suppression methods such as imposing reading tests, poll taxes, registration requirements, or legally disfranchising specific minority groups, then voting inside that state would be reduced, but as the state’s electoral count would be the same, disenfranchisement has no effect on the overall electoral tally. Critics contend that such disenfranchisement is partially obscured by the Electoral College. A related argument is the Electoral College may have a dampening effect on voter turnout: there is no incentive for states to reach out to more of its citizens to include them in elections because the state’s electoral count remains fixed in any event. According to this view, if elections were by popular vote, then states would be motivated to include more citizens in elections since the state would then have more political clout nationally. Critics contend the electoral college system insulates states from negative publicity as well as possible federal penalties for disenfranching subgroups of citizens.

Legal scholars Akhil Amar and Vikram Amar have argued that the original Electoral College compromise was enacted partially because it enabled Southern states to disenfranchise their slave populations.[135] It permitted Southern states to disfranchise large numbers of slaves while allowing these states to maintain political clout within the federation by using the Three-Fifths Compromise. They noted that James Madisonbelieved the question of counting slaves had presented a serious challenge, but that “the substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.”[136] Akhil and Vikram Amar added:

The founders’ system also encouraged the continued disfranchisement of women. In a direct national election system, any state that gave women the vote would automatically have doubled its national clout. Under the Electoral College, however, a state had no such incentive to increase the franchise; as with slaves, what mattered was how many women lived in a state, not how many were empowered. …a state with low voter turnout gets precisely the same number of electoral votes as if it had a high turnout. By contrast, a well-designed direct election system could spur states to get out the vote.[135]

Lack of enfranchisement of U.S. territories

Territories of the United States, such as Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin IslandsAmerican Samoa, and Guam, are not entitled to electors in presidential elections. Constitutionally, only U.S. states (per Article II, Section 1, Clause 2) and Washington, D.C. (per the Twenty-third Amendment) are entitled to electors. Guam has held non-binding straw polls for president since the 1980s to draw attention to this fact.[137][138] This means that roughly 4 million Americans do not have the right to vote in presidential elections.[139] Various scholars consequently conclude that the U.S. national-electoral process is not fully democratic.[140][141]

Advantage based on state population

Researchers have variously attempted to measure which states’ voters have the greatest impact in such an indirect election.

Each state gets a minimum of three electoral votes, regardless of population, which gives low-population states a disproportionate number of electors per capita.[139] For example, an electoral vote represents nearly four times as many people in California as in Wyoming.[139][142] Sparsely populated states are likely to be increasingly overrepresented in the electoral college over time, because Americans are increasingly moving to big cities, most of which are in big states.[139] This analysis gives a strong advantage to the smallest states, but ignores any extra influence that comes from larger states’ ability to deliver their votes as a single bloc.

Countervailing analyses which do take into consideration the sizes of the electoral voting blocs, such as the Banzhaf power index (BPI) model based on probability theory lead to very different conclusions about voters relative power.[clarification needed] In 1968, John F. Banzhaf III (who developed the Banzhaf power index) determined that a voter in the state of New York had, on average, 3.312 times as much voting power in presidential elections as a voter in any other U.S. state.[143] It was found that based on 1990 census and districting, individual voters in California, the largest state, had 3.3 times more individual power to choose a president than voters of Montana, the largest of the states allocating the minimum of three electors.[144] Because Banzhaf’s method ignores the demographic makeup of the states, it has been criticized for treating votes like independent coin-flips. More empirically based models of voting yield results that seem to favor larger states less.[145]

Disadvantage for third parties

In practice, the winner-take-all manner of allocating a state’s electors generally decreases the importance of minor parties.[146] However, it has been argued the Electoral College is not a cause of the two-party system, and that it had a tendency to improve the chances of third-party candidates in some situations.[121]

Three-fifths clause impacts

After the initial estimates agreed to in the original Constitution, Congressional and Electoral College reapportionment was made according to a decennial census to reflect population changes, modified by counting three-fifths of persons held as slaves for apportionment of representation. Beginning with the first census, Electoral College votes repeatedly eclipsed the electoral basis supporting slave-power in the choice of the U.S. president.[147]

At the Constitution, the Electoral College was authorized a majority of 49 votes for northern states in the process of abolishing slavery, and 42 votes for slave-holding states (including Delaware). In the event, the first 1788 presidential election did not include Electoral College votes for unratified Rhode Island (3) and North Carolina (7), nor for New York (8) which reported too late; the Northern majority was 38 to 35.[148] Then for the first two decades of census apportionment in the Electoral College, in 1790 and in 1800, the Three-Fifths clause awarded free-soil Northern states narrow majorities of 8% and 11% as the Southern states in Convention had given up two-fifths of their slave population in their federal apportionment compromise. But thereafter, Northern states assumed uninterrupted majorities with margins ranging from 15.4% to 23.2%.[149]

While Southern state Congressional delegations were boosted by an average of one-third during each decade of this period[150], the margin of free-soil Electoral College majorities were still maintained over this entire early republic and antebellum period.[151] Scholars further conclude that the Three-fifths clause had limited impact on sectional proportions in party voting and factional strength. The seats that the South gained from a slave bonus were evenly distributed between the parties of the period. At the First Party System (1795–1823), the Jefferson Republicans gained 1.1 percent more adherents from the slave bonus, while the Federalists lost the same proportion. At the Second Party System (1823–1837) the emerging Jacksonians gained just 0.7% more seats, versus the opposition loss of 1.6%.[152]

The Three-fifths rule of apportionment in the Electoral College eventually resulted in three counter-factual losses in the sixty-eight years from 1792–1860. With that clause, the slaveholding states gave up two-fifths of their slave population in federal apportionment, giving a margin of victory to John Adams in his 1796 election defeating Thomas Jefferson.[153] Then in 1800, historian Garry Wills argues that Jefferson’s victory over Adams was due to the slave bonus count in the Electoral College because Adams would have won if only popular votes cast counted.[154] In 1824, the presidential selection was thrown into the House of Representatives, and John Quincy Adams was chosen over Andrew Jackson, even though Jackson had a larger popular vote plurality. Then Andrew Jackson won in 1828, but that second campaign would also have been lost if the count in the Electoral College were by citizen-only apportionment alone. Scholars conclude that in the 1828 race, Jackson benefitted materially from the Three-fifths clause by providing his margin of victory. The impact of the Three-fifths clause in both Jefferson’s first and Jackson’s first presidential elections was significant because each of them launched sustained Congressional party majorities over several Congresses, as well as presidential party eras.[155]

Besides the Constitutional slavery provisions prohibiting Congress from regulating foreign or domestic slave trade before 1808, and a positive requirement for states to return escaped “persons held to service”,[156] legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar argues that the Electoral College was originally advocated by slave-holders in an additional effort to defend slavery. In the Congressional apportionment provided in the text of the Constitution with its Three-Fifths Compromise estimate, “Virginia emerged as the big winner…with…more than a quarter of the [votes] needed to win an election in the first round [for Washington’s first presidential election in 1788].” Following the 1790 census, the most populous state in the 1790 Census was Virginia, a slave state with 39.1% slaves, or 292,315 counted three-fifths, to yield a calculated number of 175,389 for congressional apportionment.[157] “The ‘free’ state of Pennsylvania had 10% more free persons than Virginia, but got 20% fewer electoral votes.”[158] Pennsylvania split eight to seven for Jefferson, favoring Jefferson with a majority of 53% in a state with 0.1% slave population.[159] Historian Eric Foner agrees that the constitution’s three-fifths compromise gave protection to slavery.[160]


Half of the population lives in these counties

Prevention of an urban-centric victory[edit]

Proponents of the Electoral College claim that it prevents a candidate from winning the presidency by simply winning in heavily populated urban areas, and pushes candidates to make a wider geographic appeal than they would if they simply had to win the national popular vote.[161] They believe that adoption of the popular vote would disproportionately shift the focus to large cities at the expense of rural areas.[162]

Maintenance of the federal character of the nation[edit]

The United States of America is a federal coalition that consists of component states. Proponents of the current system argue the collective opinion of even a small state merits attention at the federal level greater than that given to a small, though numerically equivalent, portion of a very populous state. The system also allows each state the freedom, within constitutional bounds, to design its own laws on voting and enfranchisement without an undue incentive to maximize the number of votes cast.

For many years early in the nation’s history, up until the Jacksonian Era, many states appointed their electors by a vote of the state legislature, and proponents argue that, in the end, the election of the president must still come down to the decisions of each state, or the federal nature of the United States will give way to a single massive, centralized government.[163]

In his book A More Perfect Constitution, Professor Larry Sabato elaborated on this advantage of the Electoral College, arguing to “mend it, don’t end it,” in part because of its usefulness in forcing candidates to pay attention to lightly populated states and reinforcing the role of the state in federalism.[164]

Enhancement of the status of minority groups[edit]

Instead of decreasing the power of minority groups by depressing voter turnout, proponents argue that by making the votes of a given state an all-or-nothing affair, minority groups can provide the critical edge that allows a candidate to win. This encourages candidates to court a wide variety of such minorities and advocacy groups.[163]

Encouragement of stability through the two-party system[edit]

Proponents of the Electoral College see its negative effect on third parties as beneficial. They argue that the two party system has provided stability because it encourages a delayed adjustment during times of rapid political and cultural change. They believe it protects the most powerful office in the country from control by what these proponents view as regional minorities until they can moderate their views to win broad, long-term support across the nation. Advocates of a national popular vote for president suggest that this effect would also be true in popular vote elections. Of 918 elections for governor between 1948 and 2009, for example, more than 90% were won by candidates securing more than 50% of the vote, and none have been won with less than 35% of the vote.[165]

Flexibility if a presidential candidate dies[edit]

According to this argument, the fact the Electoral College is made up of real people instead of mere numbers allows for human judgment and flexibility to make a decision, if it happens that a candidate dies or becomes legally disabled around the time of the election. Advocates of the current system argue that human electors would be in a better position to choose a suitable replacement than the general voting public. According to this view, electors could act decisively during the critical time interval between when ballot choices become fixed in state ballots[166] until mid-December when the electors formally cast their ballots.[167] In the election of 1872, losing Liberal Republican candidate Horace Greeley died during this time interval, which resulted in disarray for the Democratic Party, who also supported Greeley, but the Greeley electors were able to split their votes for different alternate candidates.[168][169][170] A situation in which the winning candidate died has never happened. In the election of 1912Vice President Sherman died shortly before the election when it was too late for states to remove his name from their ballots; accordingly, Sherman was listed posthumously, but the eight electoral votes that Sherman would have received were cast instead for Nicholas Murray Butler.[171]

Isolation of election problems[edit]

Some supporters of the Electoral College note that it isolates the impact of any election fraud, or other such problems, to the state where it occurs. It prevents instances where a party dominant in one state may dishonestly inflate the votes for a candidate and thereby affect the election outcome. For instance, recounts occur only on a state-by-state basis, not nationwide.[172] Results in a single state where the popular vote is very close—such as Florida in 2000—can decide the national election.[173]

Role of slavery[edit]

Supporters of the Electoral College have provided many counterarguments to the charges that it defended slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the president who helped abolish slavery, won an Electoral College majority in 1860 despite winning less than 40 percent of the national popular vote.[174] Lincoln’s 39.8%, however, represented a plurality of a popular vote that was divided among 4 major candidates. Thus he did indeed win the popular vote.

Dave Benner argues that although the additional population of slave states from the Three-Fifths Compromise allowed Jefferson to defeat Adams in 1800, Jefferson’s margin of victory would have been wider had the entire slave population been counted.[175] He also notes that some of the most vociferous critics of a national popular vote at the constitutional convention were delegates from free states, including Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, who declared that such a system would lead to a “great evil of cabal and corruption,” and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who called a national popular vote “radically vicious.”[175] Delegates Oliver Ellsworth and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, a state which had adopted a gradual emancipation law three years earlier, also criticized the use of a national popular vote system.[175] Likewise, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a member of Adams’ Federalist Party and himself a presidential candidate in 1800, hailed from South Carolina and was himself a slaveowner.[175] In 1824Andrew Jackson, a slaveowner from Tennessee, was similarly defeated by John Quincy Adams, an outspoken critic of slavery.[175]

Efforts to abolish[edit]

Bayh–Celler amendment[edit]

The closest the United States has come to abolishing the Electoral College occurred during the 91st Congress (1969–1971).[176] The presidential election of 1968 resulted in Richard Nixon receiving 301 electoral votes (56% of electors), Hubert Humphrey 191 (35.5%), and George Wallace 46 (8.5%) with 13.5% of the popular vote. However, Nixon had received only 511,944 more popular votes than Humphrey, 43.5% to 42.9%, less than 1% of the national total.[177]

Representative Emanuel Celler (D–New York), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded to public concerns over the disparity between the popular vote and electoral vote by introducing House Joint Resolution 681, a proposed Constitutional amendment that would have replaced the Electoral College with a simpler plurality system based on the national popular vote. With this system, the pair of candidates who had received the highest number of votes would win the presidency and vice presidency provided they won at least 40% of the national popular vote. If no pair received 40% of the popular vote, a runoff election would be held in which the choice of president and vice president would be made from the two pairs of persons who had received the highest number of votes in the first election. The word “pair” was defined as “two persons who shall have consented to the joining of their names as candidates for the offices of President and Vice President.”[178]

On April 29, 1969, the House Judiciary Committee voted 28 to 6 to approve the proposal.[179] Debate on the proposal before the full House of Representatives ended on September 11, 1969[180] and was eventually passed with bipartisan support on September 18, 1969, by a vote of 339 to 70.[181]

On September 30, 1969, President Richard Nixon gave his endorsement for adoption of the proposal, encouraging the Senate to pass its version of the proposal, which had been sponsored as Senate Joint Resolution 1 by Senator Birch Bayh (D–Indiana).[182]

On October 8, 1969, the New York Times reported that 30 state legislatures were “either certain or likely to approve a constitutional amendment embodying the direct election plan if it passes its final Congressional test in the Senate.” Ratification of 38 state legislatures would have been needed for adoption. The paper also reported that six other states had yet to state a preference, six were leaning toward opposition and eight were solidly opposed.[183]

On August 14, 1970, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent its report advocating passage of the proposal to the full Senate. The Judiciary Committee had approved the proposal by a vote of 11 to 6. The six members who opposed the plan, Democratic Senators James Eastland of Mississippi, John Little McClellan of Arkansas, and Sam Ervin of North Carolina, along with Republican Senators Roman Hruska of Nebraska, Hiram Fong of Hawaii, and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, all argued that although the present system had potential loopholes, it had worked well throughout the years. Senator Bayh indicated that supporters of the measure were about a dozen votes shy from the 67 needed for the proposal to pass the full Senate.[184] He called upon President Nixon to attempt to persuade undecided Republican senators to support the proposal.[185] However, Nixon, while not reneging on his previous endorsement, chose not to make any further personal appeals to back the proposal.[186]

On September 8, 1970, the Senate commenced openly debating the proposal[187] and the proposal was quickly filibustered. The lead objectors to the proposal were mostly Southern senators and conservatives from small states, both Democrats and Republicans, who argued abolishing the Electoral College would reduce their states’ political influence.[186] On September 17, 1970, a motion for cloture, which would have ended the filibuster, received 54 votes to 36 for cloture,[186] failing to receive the then required a two-thirds majority of senators voting.[188] A second motion for cloture on September 29, 1970, also failed, by 53 to 34. Thereafter, the Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield of Montana, moved to lay the proposal aside so the Senate could attend to other business.[189] However, the proposal was never considered again and died when the 91st Congress ended on January 3, 1971.

Carter proposal[edit]

On March 22, 1977, President Jimmy Carter wrote a letter of reform to Congress that also included his expression of essentially abolishing the Electoral College. The letter read in part:

My fourth recommendation is that the Congress adopt a Constitutional amendment to provide for direct popular election of the President. Such an amendment, which would abolish the Electoral College, will ensure that the candidate chosen by the voters actually becomes President. Under the Electoral College, it is always possible that the winner of the popular vote will not be elected. This has already happened in three elections, 1824, 1876, and 1888. In the last election, the result could have been changed by a small shift of votes in Ohio and Hawaii, despite a popular vote difference of 1.7 million. I do not recommend a Constitutional amendment lightly. I think the amendment process must be reserved for an issue of overriding governmental significance. But the method by which we elect our President is such an issue. I will not be proposing a specific direct election amendment. I prefer to allow the Congress to proceed with its work without the interruption of a new proposal.[190]

President Carter’s proposed program for the reform of the Electoral College was very liberal for a modern president during this time, and in some aspects of the package, it went beyond original expectations.[191] Newspapers like The New York Times saw President Carter’s proposal at that time as “a modest surprise” because of the indication of Carter that he would be interested in only eliminating the electors but retaining the electoral vote system in a modified form.[191]

Newspaper reaction to Carter’s proposal ranged from some editorials praising the proposal to other editorials, like that in the Chicago Tribune, criticizing the president for proposing the end of the Electoral College.[192]

In a letter to The New York Times, Representative Jonathan B. Bingham (D-New York) highlighted the danger of the “flawed, outdated mechanism of the Electoral College” by underscoring how a shift of fewer than 10,000 votes in two key states would have led to President Gerald Ford being reelected despite Jimmy Carter’s nationwide 1.7 million-vote margin.[193]

Cohen proposal[edit]

On January 3, 2019, Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) introduced a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that would replace the Electoral College with the popular election of the president and vice president.[194] Unlike the Bayh–Celler amendment 40% threshold for election, Cohen’s proposal only requires a candidate to have the “greatest number of votes” to be elected.[195]

National Popular Vote Interstate Compact[edit]

Several states plus the District of Columbia have joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.[196] The compact is based on the current rule in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution, which gives each state legislature the plenary power to determine how it chooses its electors. Those jurisdictions joining the compact agree to eventually pledge their electors to the winner of the national popular vote.

The compact will not go into effect until the number of states agreeing to the compact form a majority (at least 270) of all electors. Some scholars have suggested that Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution requires congressional consent before the compact could be enforceable;[197] thus, any attempted implementation of the compact without congressional consent could face court challenges to its constitutionality.

As of 2019, 12 states and the District of Columbia have joined the compact; collectively, these jurisdictions control 181 electoral votes, which is 67% of the 270 required for the compact to take effect.[198] Only strongly “blue” states have joined the compact, each of which returned large victory margins for Barack Obama in the 2012 election and for Hillary Clinton in 2016.[199][200]

See also[edit]

References …