My Family’s Electoral College Problem

September 7, 2016

There are two major obsessions that have taken over my household lately. If you’ve read any of my blogs in the past few weeks, you probably know that one of the obsessions is Hamilton the musical. The other is…(drum roll, please)…the electoral college. Yes, that’s right, the electoral college, also known as that map they drag out every 4 years to track the progress of the presidential election.


If you watch the news at all, you’ve no doubt seen the map with its red and blue states filled in. When someone has the nerve to change a state color, it’s like a holiday (or a funeral) in my house depending on the way the color moves. If it was possible for my daughter to have her own color-changing electoral map, my child would totally want one. I bet she would spend hours poring over the different combinations needed to get to 270 electoral votes and calculating the odds of each state voting a particular way.


While I understand the very basics about the electoral college (to be honest, I think the paragraph above pretty much summarizes everything I know) there are a lot of questions I can’t answer about the hows and whys of the whole electoral thing. And that’s a problem because my daughter has a lot of questions about the people and process involved in choosing the president. My one consolation is that no one else I know seems to really have an idea about the electoral college either, so we are all in the same boat.


Then I had an epiphany. If I could learn all about the electoral college, I could become an expert, sought out by schools, and groups, and CNN to explain the minute details of our hallowed institution. I could make the rounds from now to election day telling people about…well, I’m not sure yet because I haven’t learned anything about the electoral college, but I’ll come up with something profound and important, I’m sure. I’ll be famous. I’ll be rich. Oh, OK, not rich, but at least I’ll be knowledgeable. Hey, it could happen right? I mean it’s not like YOU know anything about the electoral college. In fact, do you know ANYONE who knows anything about the electoral college? I thought not.


So, with that thought, I started on my research which led me to…COBBLESTONE’s Electoral College issue. Leave it to COBBLESTONE, our award-winning American history magazine for kids 9 to 14, to have an entire issue of the magazine devoted to the electoral college. Since I’m so nice, I’m going to share just one article from the issue with you. It’s called the “Origins of the Electoral College” and it traces the reasons our Founding Father (Hamilton, ahem) decided to put the electoral college in place more than 2 centuries. Naturally, there are many other important articles in this special issue (and in the Elections Theme Pack found in our store) but since I want to be the expert, you’re on your own to discover what they are. I’m feeling smarter already.


See you on CNN.


Cricket Media - Children's Magazines


  1. OTTO

    By changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes, the National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes.
    No more handful of ‘battleground’ states (where the two major political parties happen to have similar levels of support among voters) where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 38+ predictable states that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    The bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
    The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    National Popular Vote

  2. OTTO

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in them, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

    Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1
    “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
    The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

Add Comment