|2012 U.S. Electoral College results (Source; Latinos Post)|
On the one hand, the American electorate vote for their president, and the result of that voting produces what is called the popular vote.
In 2012, Obama received 50.6 percent of the popular vote and Romney received 47.8 percent. All other presidential candidates received 1.6 percent combined. Voter turnout was 57.5 percent (Federal Election Commission).
On the other hand, the American Electoral College determines who are the president and vice-president. There are electors from the American states, and the number of electors per state corresponds to the number of representatives from the state in the U.S. Congress (Office of the Federal Register).
In addition, each state has a set rules regarding how the electors vote. The District of Colombia and 48 states have a winner-takes-all rule based on the presidential candidate with a majority of the popular vote (in the state) or a plurality of the popular vote (less than 50 percent but more than any other candidate in the state) receiving all the Electoral College votes for the relevant state. 27 states Electoral College are bound by state law to vote according to the popular vote, while 24 states are not (Office of the Federal Register).
Nebraska and Maine allow for a split of Electoral College votes through their systems of proportional allocation of votes (based in Maine on Electoral districts and at-large Electoral votes). There is no winner-takes-all rule (Office of the Federal Register).
Obama's 332 Electoral College votes versus Romney's 206 is reflective of the winner-takes-all rule.
So the 2012 U.S. election came down to the popular vote in each state. If Romney had 3 percent more in overall popular vote or a better distribution of the popular vote in the states, he would have likely won the election.
There is no public transparency of who the Electoral College electors are, and how they individually vote. Also, because of the winner-takes-all rule in the District of Colombia and 48 states, the American electorate is the principal force in determining who the U.S. president and vice-president are. In the history of the U.S. Electoral College, only four times has the Electoral College vote not conformed to the overall popular vote (Office of the Federal Register).
However, the popular vote is not necessarily reflective of the voice of the American electorate from electoral districts. The popular vote is susceptible to corruption from biased media coverage, censorship of third-parties in the national debates and other events, and unfair campaign finance regulations.
Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement Executive Director
From the 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the United States:
The U.S. President and Vice-President are not selected directly by vote of the people. They are selected by appointed electors from each state as per directions of each legislator: the number of electors from each state corresponds to the whole number of Senators and Representatives, which each State is entitled to in Congress. No federal Senators and Representatives may appoint electors. The electors vote by ballot for two presidential candidates and one of them must not be an inhabitant of the same State as themselves. The person having the greater number of votes will be the President, if such a number is a majority; if there are two majorities with equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives will choose by ballot the President; if no person has a majority, then from the five highest candidates on the list, the House of Representatives will choose the President with the representation from the States having one vote; quorum is two thirds of the States. After determining the President, the person having the greatest number of votes shall be the Vice-President. If two or more candidates have equal votes, then the Senate shall choose by ballot the Vice-President (U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1).
The U.S. President and Vice-President are selected by the state electors based on first-past-the-post. The presidential candidate with the most Electoral College votes wins the presidency. The number of state electors each state has is proportional to the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. congress (U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1).
The presidential and vice-presidential candidates having the most votes shall be President and Vice-President, as long as the number of votes for each candidate is a majority of the whole number of electors appointed. If no majority exists for the presidential candidates, then the candidates with highest number of votes (not exceeding three) shall choose the President via ballot and based on votes taken by states with each state having one vote. This vote requires a quorum of two-thirds of the states and a majority of the states. If there is no vice-presidential candidate with a majority of the vote, then from the two candidates with highest number of votes, the Senate shall choose. This vote requires a quorum of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators and a majority of the Senate (U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment).
The District of Colombia and 48 states have a winner-takes-all rule for the Electoral College. In these States, whichever candidate receives a majority of the popular vote or a plurality of the popular vote (less than 50 percent but more than any other candidate) receives all of the state’s Electoral votes (Office of the Federal Register, 2012).
Nebraska and Maine allow for a possible split of votes through their system of proportional allocation of votes (based in Maine on Electoral districts and at-large Electoral votes). There is no winner-takes-all rule (Office of the Federal Register, 2012).
Question to Readers:
With the Electoral College tied mostly to the popular vote, what are the most outstanding issues facing the American federal electoral system?