History of the electoral college and how it works

"Make It Count" Voter's Guide

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — KOLR10’s Frances Lin spoke to three political science professors here in town at Missouri State University, Drury University, and Ozarks Technical Community College.

All three professors said it’s hard to define what the word “fair” would mean in the electoral college system, but there are arguments for both sides.

“They anticipate there will be multiple candidates for the presidency and of course there’s no mass media there’s no understanding of campaigning for the office either,” said Dr. Kevin Pybas, university pre-law advisor at Missouri State University.

“They didn’t have television or anything like that, so they were worried about the ability of somebody out, some farmer out there being able to make a good decision because they didn’t have information,” said Dr. Daniel Ponder, I.E. Meador Endowed Chair of Political Science at Drury University.

The professors explain how the electoral college disproportionately favor small states.

“The smallest 26 states command a majority in the U.S. Senate but they represent less than 18% of the population,” said Dr. Ponder, “there’s no other industrialized democracy that systematically disfavors urbanized areas.”

Some other reasons the system is disproportionate is a state has a minimum of three electoral votes, even if their population is much smaller than that.

And the “winner take all” system is not reflective of all voters.

“In 2016, all ten electors voted for Donald Trump. Zero voted for Hillary Clinton. That’s not the way Missouri worked out, Missouri was like 60/40 Trump,” said Andrew Crocker, a political science instructor at Ozarks Technical Community College.

“At that time, they were worried that some of the smaller states are worried that they will just get overrun,” Dr. Ponder said, “especially large southern states with lots of slaves were worried whether or not they’d have an impact. The southern states weren’t going to give their slaves human rights much less political rights, but they wanted to count each slave for its representation in the house, and therefore, in the electoral college.”

“Small states, which don’t have a million people like Wyoming, get a ton more representation per person in the electoral college than we do,” Crocker said.

There is a very rare scenario that could happen, a possibility to have an electoral college tie, where each candidate has 269 electoral votes each.

If that is the case, the vote then goes to the House of Representatives.

They will hold a vote with delegations of all 50 states to vote as a state singular, and their entire state counts as one vote.

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