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To better understand the Electoral College, let’s agree on a few definitions. Democracy is defined as government by the people, either directly or through elected representatives, majority rule. A republic is similar to a democracy, but instead of a governing body of elected representatives, there is a president appointed as the titular head. With both government types combined, and with the governing body broken into three separate parts, assurance is made that no one person can take over the entire governing body.

The U.S. Constitution goes further to protect these democratic rights. Appointing a body of representatives to elect the President and Vice President ensures that a party dominated house and senate will not vote in their candidate, but the choice of the people. Article 2 of the Constitution mandates that each state appoint electors according to the number of representatives, plus the two state senators. This body was to be named the Electoral College. The number varies according to state population and is set every ten years according to the U. S. Census.

The electors for each district of the state are selected by each party, and occasionally by mayoral appointment. In the November general election, the electors for the winning candidate attend the Electoral College Vote in December. There is a rather complicated process of elector certification from each state being sent to the President of the Senate. Each state’s Electoral College meets on the first Monday, after the second Wednesday in December. They then usually vote for the candidate that they are representing for the state. The ballots are tallied, certified, sealed and also sent to the President of the Senate. In a joint session of Congress on the second Tuesday in January, the President of the Senate declares which candidate has been elected and the results are entered into official journals of the House and Senate.

After the documentation, a call for objections is made and final declaration is made. The President and Vice President are officially elected on that Tuesday in January, and not back in November. There have been two instances of a President and Vice President taking office in spite of the popular national vote. In both cases, Congress and the Senate voted the candidates into office.

Each state’s Secretary of State has an Election Programs Coordinator, or an approximate office. Visit your state’s web site and find information about the Electoral College appointments. I found Washington State’s web site a breeze to navigate, and the Election Programs Coordinator, Bill Huennekens was very helpful and took the time to answer each of my questions.