What should people know about American politics
politics Why doesn't the candidate with the most votes always become president in the USA?
The reason lies in the electoral system in the USA. Because in America the president is not elected directly by the people, but by the so-called Electoral College. That takes place 41 days after the official election day. The so-called electors are sent to Washington on this day by the respective states to elect the president.
The number of electors the state has available depends on how many citizens live there. Almost 40 million Americans live in California, which is why this state has 55 voters. Wyoming, for example, has just under 600,000 residents and therefore only 3 voters.
Does that mean the big states are more important?
Yes, in most states all electoral votes go to only one candidate. Namely the candidate who got the most votes in the respective state. So in the case of California it would be 55 votes. Accordingly, it is also not important whether a candidate narrowly won the state or - purely fictitious - received 99 percent of the vote. The candidate gets all votes from the state - according to the-winner-takes-it-all principle.
How can it be mathematically that someone has fewer votes and still becomes president?
Because all the votes of the electorate go to only one candidate, a lot of the votes that actually voted the other candidate are practically lost. For example, it would be enough for a candidate to win the eleven most populous states with just 51 percent of the vote. Then he's still president and it doesn't matter how the other 39 states were elected.
When did this electoral system come about?
That goes back to the year 1787 - on the US Constitution. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, the founding fathers of the constitution, then only allowed white men of Protestant faith to vote. That was only around 10 percent of the population at the time. But they were not convinced of the level of education and the integrity of the citizens. That's why they built some kind of safeguard mechanism into the electoral system - that Electoral College. So that the will of the people can at least not have a direct impact on politics. In the meantime, significantly more people in the USA are allowed to vote, but that Electoral College has remained.
How many times has the candidate become president with fewer votes?
In total, this has happened five times in US history. The last time in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected President.
The text and audio of this post are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license.
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