Electoral college is where the election is truly won or lost

Chris Vetter

Tuesday’s presidential election presents Americans with clear choices for the nation’s next leader. Citizens directly affect their destinies by sending individual votes that, when counted together, create a popular chorus that sends the nation forth in a bold, popularly determined direction.
Sort of.
The presidential election system was never set up to be an absolute, true democracy in which citizens would travel to town halls in order to write all the laws or vote on every issue. The creation of the Electoral College meant citizens would not have the power to directly elect their president, said Steve Smith, a University political science professor.
The system was created so that citizens would elect officials to make governmental decisions — including choosing the president — for them.
And despite occasional protests by voters, the Electoral College presidential election system has not been changed since the Constitution was implemented.
The college is essentially a state-by-state, winner-take-all system. Each state has one electoral vote for each of its representatives in Congress. A candidate must receive 270 of 538 electoral votes to win the presidency.
Minnesota has eight representatives in the House and two senators, which amounts to 10 electoral votes.
The presidential candidate who wins the most votes in Minnesota will receive all 10 electoral votes. If Bill Clinton wins Minnesota by a 20-point margin or a 1-point margin, he will still receive only 10 electoral votes.
Under this system, candidates place more worth on winning the popular vote in larger states such as California, which has 54 electoral votes. The winner of California is one-fifth of the way to becoming elected. And under the system it is mathematically possible for a candidate to win the presidency by gaining the votes of only eight states.
Although there has been talk of reforming the Electoral College system into a true one-person-one-vote system, this has never been seriously considered because the larger, more populous states enjoy the added attention that candidates give them during the campaign season, Smith said.
But the system has backfired in the past. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison won the presidency by securing 233 of the 401 electoral votes. Incumbent Grover Cleveland won the remaining 168, but actually received almost 100,000 more popular votes than Harrison.