Jaypee’s son, John Tristan or Tatan, was born in New York over 16 years ago. In 5 years, this Amboy will vote in the next U.S. presidential elections. Like everyone of us of the brown race though, we find it difficult how the Electoral College (EC) works.
Everyone has heard about the EC but I am sure majority of us have no clue what it is or how it works. Admittedly, there is no monopoly of knowledge and I am a moron when it comes to the system, but for Tatan I would attempt to understand, in a language simple enough for Betchay, who will be two in December, to understand when she gets to read the piece when she is older.
First things first, the EC is not a school where one goes to after high school. It is how people from the Land of Milk and Honey vote for their president or the President of the United States (Potus). Unlike here, when you turn 18, you register and on election day, go to a polling place and cast your vote for president. Basic majority rule applies, thus whoever gets the most votes becomes president. Whoever gets the least votes does not.
The difference in the U.S. is that the winning votes come from the EC – not directly from the voters. Teka, teka muna ser. Hindi ba dito sa atin ang binoto at nanalo, ‘yun na ang presidente? Ibig bang sabihin bale wala ang boto? Answer: Dito, oo, pero doon ang sagot, “Change me” or in the vernacular, “Ibahin mo ako!”
Thus, when the voter votes, he actually votes for a group of people called “electors” (delegate) who make up the EC. These electors are the ones who vote for president and because it’s automatic, his vice president.
There are 538 electors in the EC from all 50 states and Washington D.C. Each state gets a certain number of electors depending on how many people live there. Bigger states get a bigger team of electors. Smaller states get smaller teams of electors. Each state has its own rules on how electors are chosen. Usually, the winning political party of the primary election picks the electors.
What about the so-called “will of the people”? Just because the EC ultimately votes for the president, it does not mean the electors can vote whoever or however they want. Each state votes for who they want to be president. The voter tells their electors how the state should vote for a president.
There are two ways to get votes in America: the popular vote, which is the voter’s individual choice and the electoral vote, which is the voter’s choice coursed through the elector. While a candidate wants to get as many electoral votes as he can, he does not need to get all 538. The magic number to win is 270 – a little over half. In the event that neither candidate receives the majority of electoral votes, the election goes to the House of Representatives to break the tie and determine who the next Potus will be.
At Boys High, we, naughty kids bet our baon at Lucky 9 or Black Jack using the page numbers as cards. The rule is always “winner-takes-all” or “all-or-nothing.” When all votes in a certain state are cast, the EC counts the votes. The candidate with the most votes wins all the electoral votes of that state. Every state except for Maine and Nebraska (which split their electoral votes) use the “all-or-nothing” rule. Even if a candidate wins the popular vote by one single vote, he gets all the electoral votes for that state.
Parang ganito lang ‘yan. In a kindergarten class of 10, two pupils are given an empty bowl each. The rest of the class has one piece of apple that they can only give to either of the two. One by one, the pupils put their apple in either bowl. At the end, whoever has the most apples in their bowl wins all the apples. The other bowl is emptied into the winning bowl.
Unfair for some but that is debatable. It is good for some people because it helps smaller states with fewer people gain a voice in the election. It is bad because it is possible that the candidate who wins the electoral vote may lose the popular vote, which technically means the majority of Americans didn’t actually want the person who was elected president. That happened most recently during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections when Hilary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to Donald Trump. This is where a few unpredictable “swing” states have a lot of influence over the election. These states often “swing” their votes between parties with each election. As I write this piece before the press time deadline of Thursday, with a threshold benchmark of 270, Biden has 227 EC votes while Trump has 214 EC votes. With five remaining ECs unaccounted for, it would be a close call. Of course, Trump has already declared himself the winner and probably has a Pinoy lawyer or Comelec commissioner who advised him to say he was cheated.
Not every voter is happy but the EC was not created to please everyone. It would be like Tatan wanting to go out for a pizza dinner, but Menngay wants to bake lasagna at home. So, Tatan offers to help make pizza and lasagna at home. It is called a compromise and that’s what America’s founding fathers did when they created the EC to choose the Potus. Pootik. Dyak maawatan! Sigh.