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Results of American Elections Cannot be Known Now

Nov 4, 2008, 5:05 AM

The ongoing casting of popular votes does not mark the end of the Presidential race. More process have yet to fall out.

The electoral process in America has yesterday reached another level as voters now queue to exercise their constitutional right and discharge their civic duty. By the end of the process a new President will have emerged to take up where outgoing President George W. Bush has left off.

It is to be noted that under the U.S. Constitution winning the votes of the people (the popular vote) does not automatically give a ticket to the White House.

According to the U.S. Constitution, the President of the United States is chosen by electors who constitute the Electoral colleges and not, as would he expected, by popular vote. Following the on-going casting of popular votes, therefore, the process of electing a President goes to the next stage, the meeting of the Electoral College, which comprises a number of electors appointed by each state.

The electors shall then meet in their respective states at such time and on such day as congress decides, in order to vote by ballot for two persons one of whom at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state as themselves. The Electoral College shall then make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each. They shall sign and certify the list and transmit it sealed to the seat of government (currently WashingtonD.C.) directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted.

The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President if such number be majority of the whole number of electors appointed. Where no presidential candidate receives electoral majority a further procedure is adopted including immediate ballot by the House of Representatives from the two or three highest on the list.

Another point to note is that any candidate who has more votes in any state wins all the electoral votes in that State (Winner takes all). This explains why candidates mostly concentrate campaign time and resources in states with comparatively larger electoral votes states like California, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Texas or the doubtful border line states which of course varies from one election to another; and less concentration in States like Delaware, Virgin Islands, Connecticut. The number of electoral votes per State is determined by the number of congressional districts and Senators a State has.

What then is the importance of the popular vote if it cannot on its own take a candidate to the White House? One explanation is that it is found that electoral votes usually follow a similar trend as the popular vote. Furthermore, the popular vote gives a sure indication of a President's popular following, and helps identify who is a majority or a minority President. A minority President is one receiving less than 50% of all the popular votes For real examples; in 1960 Democrat John F Kennedy ended the race as a minority president because 34,221,531 represented less than 50% of overall votes that year. But he won by electoral vote of 303 against his next rival Richard M. Nixon who polled 219. In 1948 Harry S. Truman, another Democrat, got 24,105,695 popular voters while his three rivals scored a total of 24,294,294 between them. His electoral vote of 303 against 189 of his nearest rival made him President although a minority President on the basis of his lower popular votes. One striking result was in the election of 1916 when Rutherford Hayes, a Republican, got only 4,036,298 of the popular votes against Democrat Samuel J. Tilden who captured 4,300,590 of the votes. But he got a single electoral vote over his Democratic rival 185 to 184 and won the election though as a minority President. Basic figures are taken from 'Historical Statistics of the United States'

So the present electoral process goes on and the final outcome wont be known for another few weeks depending on the date set by Congress for meeting of the Electoral college. The terms of the current President and vice-president shall, according to Constitution end at noon on 20thJanuary, and the four-year terms of their successors shall then begin. Who will it be; Obama or Maccain?

"Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."

George Bernard Shaw