Will Your Vote Count?

Some more of the 2016 Election Cycle is coming soon. Here is a schedule. Note we have already voted in the Presidential Preference Primary on March 1, 2016.

Election Voter Registration Deadline Election Date
Presidential Preference Primary February 1 March 1
General Primary/Nonpartisan Election April 26 May 24
General Primary/Nonpartisan Election Runoff (if needed) April 26 July 26
General Election October 11 November 8
State General Election Runoff (if needed) October 11 December 6
Federal General Runoff (if needed) October 11 January 10, 2017

For local,  state, and most federal races, it’s pretty simple. Most jurisdictions require a majority win to be elected to the office for which one is running. That means the successful candidate will receive 50% + 1 additional vote of those voting.  Most national level elections work the same except for the office of President.

Candidates running in a partisan race during the General Primary on May 24, 2016 will need to win a majority vote to advance as the party’s candidate in the General Election. Candidates running unopposed for a nonpartisan office win the office with a majority vote on May 24, 2016. When political races which fail to elect a candidate by majority vote in the General Primary, a runoff election will be held between the two top vote-getters on July 26, 2016, to determine which candidate advances to the General Election.

The General Election will be held on November 8, 2016. In this election, the voters will cast ballots for every office up for election. For every office to be elected the successful candidate needs to receive a majority of the votes cast—with the exception of the office of President and Vice President of the United States of America.

The vote for President and Vice President has a different twist, the voter casts a ballot for a slate of electors on a party basis, i.e. Democrat, Republican, or other party. This method of selecting the President is laid out in the U. S. Constitution  in Article II, Section 1 as amended by the Twelfth Amendment (1804) Every president including George Washington has been elected under this method.

We typically call this system the Electoral College. The qualifications to be an Elector are Constitutional requirements: An Elector cannot work for the federal government. An Elector may not vote for both a president and vice president from his own state.

Each state has the same number of Electors as they have members of congress, allocated based on the number of Congressional Districts in the state plus two to account for the Senators from each state. In addition, the District of Columbia gets 3 Electors. So the total number of Electors is 538. To win the Presidency or the Vice Presidency, a candidate must receive 270 Electoral Votes (50% + 1).

On election day, November 8, 2016, the candidate who wins the popular vote in each State wins all the Electors—with the exception of Maine and Nebraska where electors are doled out differently).

The Electors from each state meet in their respective States on a date set in December 2016 to cast their votes for the President and Vice President . The Electors vote on paper ballots. The result of the ballots in each State is sent to the Vice President of the United States and to other officials. After the vote, the Electoral College is dissolved until the next Presidential election. On January 6, 2016, the newly-elected United States Congress will meet to count the Electoral Vote.

Since there is a total of 538 Electoral Votes, what happens if there is a tie vote between the candidates? If there is not a tie, the candidates with the majority of the Electoral Votes is the President and the Vice President.

If there is a tie, the U. S. Congress holds a contingent election. The House of Representatives elects the President, and the Senate elects the Vice President. Each state gets 1 vote in the House and 2 votes in the Senate. Congress has two weeks to elect the President and Vice President in case of an Electoral tie. No other legislative business may be considered by Congress until this decision is made.

While the Electoral College process seems convoluted, it has served the Nation well. The Library of Congress indicates that the candidates who won the popular votes were chosen by the Electors in more than 9 out of 10 times. The system may not be perfect, but it takes a Constitutional amendment to change it.

Interesting fact: If a candidate doesn’t receive a single vote in 39 states (or DC), Parade magazine reports that the candidate can be elected President by winning the popular vote in these 11 states:  California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia.

As a Georgia voter, your vote counts in a one-on-one situation for local, state, and most federal offices, and our State is important in the Electoral College method of selecting our next President and Vice President. Find the candidates of your choice, support and vote for them in the 2016 election cycle.

Get out and vote. Your vote counts, and your will make a difference.