Gena breaks it down... By Gena Oppenheim (Writer)
Whenever I express my passion for politics, people always ask the same question: "For the love of hanging chads, can you please explain the electoral college?" So here, in a nutshell is my "crazytown" explanation:
“The college not made outta bricks,” as one of my students called it, was set up by our Founding Fathers who decided (if you go by 1776, through the magic of a very persuasive song) that it was safer to have a group of knowledgeable folks (known today by their wrestling handle, “The Electors”) to do the job of...you guessed it, electing the president. Each state gets a number of electors equal to their two senators plus the quantity of its U.S. representatives (which varies based on population). For example, California has 55 while Ohio has 18. Each state can only have one set of electors based on it's internal votes (either for say Obama or Romney...they can't be split.) The canidate who reaches the magic number of 270 electoral votes wins.
Each state selects their own electors, and nearly anyone with a passion for the body politic can be chosen to be a voting member of the electoral college. The only ineligible folks are criminals and current politicians (insert your own joke here.)
But Gena, you ask, why oh why do we still do it this way? Surely decisions by the popular vote (i.e. everybody’s vote, nationwide is equal) seems far more American. Our Founding Fathers, however, thought that states with the largest populations (and the most votes) would always get their candidate elected and maybe that wasn't fair to the five people who live in Montana.
This system has led to the election of three presidents who lost the popular vote (can anyone tell me who those three are? Bueller? Bueller? Write in comments below.)