Decision 2020

Electoral College 101

NBC Universal, Inc.

“The Electoral College is not the same as the popular vote,” reminds ECSU history professor Thomas Balcerski.

With Election Day just a couple of weeks away, here’s a quick civics review before we head to the polls or mail in our ballot.

Per the Constitution, the president of the United States is the winner of electoral votes.

A candidate needs the vote of at least 270 electors to win the election.

So after we cast our ballot, our votes goes into a statewide tally. Then, in Connecticut, the winner gets all the electoral votes for our state.

“Connecticut has seven electoral votes: five members of the House of Representatives. And like every other state, two senators,” explained professor Gary Rose, chair of Sacred Heart University’s Department of Government.

That’s smaller than the number we used to have.

Each state gets as many electors as it has members of Congress, which is calculated by Census data: another reason why it’s important to fill that form out too.

“We’ve had four presidents who have won the electoral college, but not the popular vote,” said Rose.  

The electoral college has become a polarized, point of controversy.

Those for it say it gives each state a say.

Rose said the founding fathers created this to give our democracy stability.

“It does keep out of the arena a lot of extremist parties that in Europe who have opportunities to participate.”

Oponents say it puts an emphasis on swing states instead of what the majority of people want.

Flash forward, the COVID-19 crisis could add an interesting layer to this year’s process,

“With early voting, with mail-in balloting there will be states who very likely cannot determine a winner of its electoral votes on election night and will need to count votes in the days and weeks following the election,” said Balcerski

But experts we spoke to say every person’s vote does matters, despite the controversy surrounding the process.

Contact Us