Ready for the Presidential Election on December 17th?
That is correct! You just thought we had put the election in the past when you cast your ballots on November 6th, but those were more suggestions than votes depending on which state you live in and its election laws. The actual votes are cast by the Electoral College. Some are bound to vote for the candidate picked by their state, some not, some have to for a certain number of rounds. These people will actually decide the President of the United States on December 17th, 2012.
So why an Electoral College? What happened to one man one vote? Why not go by the popular vote? The Founding Fathers had two reasons to create the Electoral College. One was a distrust of the masses. What if they elected an idiot, a felon, someone unqualified? Then the Electoral College could “fix it” by voting for someone else. Second, were states rights. We have a Senate and a House in Congress. Each State gets two Senators regardless of population. Then, the country’s population is divided by 435 each ten years during the census, and the House is based on population. This keeps smaller states more important. The Electoral College is based on your number of Senators and House members. 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House, for 535. Why then are there extras? Those are territories, not states. Confused yet?
So why not change it to popular vote? Well, if you live in a less populated state like Montana, the Dakotas, Nevada, etc., you would never want that. No candidate would ever campaign or run an ad in your state again. All the money would be spent in the big media markets like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, etc. The urban vote would be the only one sought, because the rural vote would not matter. It takes 2/3 of the states to ratify a change to the Constitution. There is no way a small state would want that, so it is unlikely to ever change. Let us look at a map by county of the recent election:
If you look at that map, you see RED, or Republican. Almost the entire country is Republican by land mass and space. So how did the Democrats win?
Here is a look by state:
You can see that those little blue areas are urban populations, so they have a lot more people than the huge area of red voters. The states with more large cities, mainly the two coasts, vote blue. The south and midwest vote red, and the Great Lakes area tends to be the swing area, along with Florida. This urban versus rural polarization is a recent phenomenon of the last twenty years. When I was growing up, Reagan was Governor of California, and the south always voted Democrat. There has been a huge shift to city versus rural. Another reason the rural voters are unlikely to ratify a change to eliminate the Electoral College and further dilute their voting impact.
This explains the Electoral College Process from the US Department of Archives:
Summary of Key Dates for the 2012 Presidential Election
June through October 2012
The Office of the Federal Register, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, prepares Electoral College instructional materials for the Archivist to send to the governors of the 50 States and the mayor of the District of Columbia.
The materials include:
- a letter from the Archivist—view a sample letter
- detailed procedural instructions and a checklist outlining the State’s responsibilities
- a timeline of key dates for the Electoral College
- a pamphlet highlighting the Presidential Election provisions in the Constitution and Federal Law
Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “state” also refers to the District of Columbia and the word “governor” also refers to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
November 6, 2012—Election Day
Registered voters cast their votes for President and Vice President. By doing so, they also help choose the electors who will represent their state in the Electoral College.
Mid-November through December 17, 2012
After the presidential election, the governor of your state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment. “As soon as practicable,” after the election results in your state are certified, the governor sends one of the Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist.
Certificates of Ascertainment should be sent to the Archivist no later than the meeting of the electors on December 17, 2012. However, federal law sets no penalty for missing the deadline.
The remaining six Certificates of Ascertainment are held for use at the meeting of the Electors on December 17, 2012.
December 11, 2012
States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the Electors on December 17, 2012. This is so their electoral votes will be presumed valid when presented to Congress. The deadline for resolving any controversies is December 11, 2012.
Decisions by states’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day, November 6, 2012.
December 17, 2012
The Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President on separate ballots. The electors record their votes on six “Certificates of Vote,” which are paired with the six remaining Certificates of Ascertainment.
The electors sign, seal, and certify six sets of electoral votes. A set of electoral votes consists of one Certificate of Ascertainment and one Certificate of Vote. These are distributed immediately as follows:
- one set to the President of the Senate (the Vice President) for the official count of the electoral votes on January 6, 2013;
- two packages to the Secretary of State in the state where the electors met—one is an archival set that becomes part of the public record of the Secretary of State’s office and the other is a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes;
- two packages to the Archivist—one is an archival set that becomes part of the permanent collection at the National Archives and Records Administration and the other is a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes; and
- one set to the presiding judge in the district where the Electors met—this is also a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes.
December 26, 2012
The deadline for receipt of the electoral votes by the President of the Senate and the Archivist is December 26, 2012. States face no legal penalty for failure to comply.
If votes are lost or delayed, the Archivist may take extraordinary measures to retrieve duplicate originals.
On or Before January 3, 2013
The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House in late December or early January. This is, in part, a ceremonial occasion. Informal meetings may take place earlier.
January 6, 2013
The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes on January 6, 2013. Congress may pass a law to change this date.
The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the Electoral College vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.
If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State on the Certificate of Ascertainment would be counted in Congress.
If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.
If no Vice Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment provides for the Senate to elect the Vice President. If necessary, the Senate would elect the Vice President by majority vote, choosing from the two candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each Senator having one vote.
If any objections to the Electoral College vote are made, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator. If objections are presented, the House and Senate withdraw to their respective chambers to consider their merits under procedures set out in federal law.
January 20, 2013 at Noon—Inauguration Day
The President-elect takes the Oath of Office and becomes the President of the United States.
The Archivist of the United States, as the head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is responsible for carrying out ministerial duties on behalf of the States and the Congress under 3 U.S.C. sections 6, 11, 12, and 13.
NARA is primarily responsible for coordinating the various stages of the electoral process by helping the States prepare and submit certificates that establish the appointment of electors and validate the electoral votes of each State.
The Archivist delegates operational duties to the Director of the Federal Register. The Federal Register Legal Staff ensures that electoral documents are transmitted to Congress, made available to the public, and preserved as part of our nation’s history.
The Office of the Federal Register Legal Staff reviews the electoral certificates for the required signatures, seals and other matters of form, as specified in federal law.
Only the Congress and the courts have the authority to rule on substantive legal issues.
Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration