The Electoral College, explained

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The Electoral College, explained 4.5

Why some Americans’ votes count more than others.

In the 2000 US presidential election, the Democratic candidate got half a million more votes than the Republican. The Democrat lost. Sixteen years later the same thing happened again. In the US, if you run for president, it does not actually matter how many people in the country vote for you. What matters instead is an arcane system for selecting America’s head of state called the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is the reason the US has something called “swing states,” and it’s the reason those places get to decide the future of the country. It’s the reason presidential candidates almost never campaign in the country’s biggest cities. And more recently, it’s also the reason that Republican candidates have been able to eke out victories in the presidential election without actually getting the most votes.

The Electoral College makes some Americans’ votes more powerful than others. In fact, that’s part of the reason we have it to begin with; in the country’s early years, the Electoral College helped give the votes of Southern Whites more weight than the votes of Northerners. The idea at its core, that certain votes simply matter more than others, is baked into the American tradition. In the 2020 election, it may decide the winner.

Further reading:

💬 Comments

Fact check: There are a few other democracies that use an electoral college system to pick their president! But what sets the US apart from them is the president’s role. In many countries, the president is less important than the prime minister, or shares power with the prime minister, or is purely a figurehead. But in the US, the president holds all the executive power — they’re the head of government AND the head of state. And there are lots of other presidents like that around the world, but they’re almost always elected by popular vote or by a national legislature. No other democracy follows the US’s example of using an entirely separate body of “electors” to pick the country’s sole leader.

So no one really does it like the US does — but we definitely could have been more precise at 0:31. Thanks to all who pointed this out! -Adam

Author — Vox


It’s like every 4years they have to explain this to us

Author — Eleazar Quezada


“In America, we do it a little... differently”
One way to put it

Author — TheTwinangels


When I was a kid I though the electoral college was a college that people went to train for being president

Author — Jess


Honestly putting the candidates into the hunger games would be more efficient at this point

Author — noufnouf maiez


Electoral College: “We were created because our founding fathers didn’t want the elections to be decided by 4 states”

Also the Electoral College: “the election will be decided to those who wins 4-5 swings states”

Author — joshuel2008


It's like rejecting the metric system wasn't enough they had to have the weirdest voting system.

Author — Harris Bren


"Swing states change overtime"

Florida: nah

Author — aspen fernandez


"...sponsored by Absolut" Yes, because no matter the result, we will ALL need a drink afterwards!

Author — yuitr loing


"Their biggest defender has always been those benefited the most from it"
Nooo waaayyyy

Author — Anthony pHung


America really said *"I'm quirky and different."*

Author — Nein





“The people? You cant trust the people”
-electoral college

Author — Out of content • 21 years


I don't know who needs to hear this, you've got to stop saving money. Invest some part of it, if you really want financial freedom.

Author — Jelena Catherine


When your state has more senators than representatives lol

Author — robin sechriest


"America does it a little differently" America does lots of things a little different and nobody knows why

Author — Anym


Presidential candidates: Your vote matters!

Electoral College: Yesn’t

Author — Hanes Howie


The real reason E.C. is there is because the founding fathers didn't trust the people to make a wise choice.



Anyone came here to deepen their understanding of the electoral college but left the video more confused than ever?

Author — Nisarg Shah


"Swing states are where the election *actually* takes place."

Succinct. Unfortunately, accurately, succinct.

Author — Cappy The Rat