Knowing more about US democratic and Electoral College system

The controversies trailing last United States presidential election in November 2020, which was won by Joe Biden and was rejected by the then incumbent President, Donald Trump, have made many people, especially outside the US to ask several questions about the American democratic system, especially on the reason for applying the Electoral College method. 

Historically, the United States of America (USA) was founded by a union of 13 countries; which surrendered their sovereignty and became States within the USA.  It is because of that the flag of the US has 13 horizontal stripes. 

In fact, in the course of its long history, other countries applied and were allowed to join the union. Today, the USA has 50 states, resulting in the 50 stars found in the flag of the American nation.

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At early stage, the small states like Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire were afraid of being dominated by the major and bigger states such as New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Virginia. They designed a constitution where there would be two chambers for legislation. 

The Congress is legislature of the USA and it comprises the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

The two chambers are co-equal. No bill (= proposed law) becomes an act (= law of the country) until it is approved by the majority of each legislative chamber. Neither chamber can override the other. 

The Senate is called the Upper Chamber while the House of Reps is called the lower chamber, in soe people’s believe they  think that the Senate is more powerful than the House. This is not so at all. That said, Only the Senate is involved in the confirmation of appointments just to save time from endless hearings.  

At the time the United States Capitol was first built in Philadelphia, it had four floors. The House of Representatives occupied Floors 1 & 2 while the Senate occupied Floors 3 & 4. As a matter of fact, that was the genesis of UPPER HOUSE AND LOWER HOUSE. 

The US Capital has been moved 8 times; Washington D.C. is the 9th city to serve as capital of the USA. 

In Washington D.C., the Senate and the House now occupy adjoining wings of a huge complex building rather than being located on different floors of the same building. 

The Senate occupies the northern wing of the capitol while the House occupies the southern wing. Strictly speaking the Upper/Lower House is, for the USA, outdated. 

Americans devised a system that would prevent the big states from permanently dominating the small states by ganging up. So, election into the House of Reps is on the basis of population. 

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It does not matter how small a state is, it must have at least one Rep. So the smallest states have only one Rep. 

The smaller states include the following: Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wyoming, South Dakota, etc. There are probably more people in Ilesa than in the state of Vermont or Wyoming. By contrast, large and populous states have much higher numbers of Reps. California has 53, Texas has 36, Florida has 27. These numbers are determined solely on the basis of population. 

However, regardless of their size, population or wealth, all states are considered equal. For this reason, all states are entitled to an equal number of senators- just two. So huge California, Texas, Florida and New York have two senators each just like tiny states like Delaware, Wyoming, Vermont and South Dakota. 

The US President is not just elected by winning the highest number of votes. Rather, each state is regarded as an indivisible unit called COLLEGE. 

The electoral college of each state is the number of Reps in that state plus 2 (the number of senators).  This means that California has 55 Electoral College votes (53 Reps plus 2 senators). Texas has 38 Electoral College votes (36 Reps plus 2 senators). Maryland has 10 (8 Reps plus 2 senators). The smallest states each has 3 Electoral College votes because each of them has 1 Rep plus 2 senators. 

When votes are cast, whoever wins in any state is assigned ALL the Electoral College votes for that states regardless of the margin of victory. Only two states (Maine and Nevada) allocate college votes based on proportionality rather than winner taking all. 

Biden won California and New York by big margins and therefore got all the college votes for for California and New York. 

Biden narrowly won Georgia and Arizona. But he still got ALL of the college votes for Georgia and Arizona. Similarly, Trump won Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee by wide margins; he got all their Electoral College votes. 

Trump also narrowly won North Carolina but he was assigned all the Electoral College votes of the state. 

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In all, there are 538 Electoral College votes (438 Reps plus 100 senators). Half of 538 is 269. The elected President of the USA is the man who has the majority (270 or more) of the Electoral College votes. 

Most times, the man who wins the Electoral College is also the person who gets the highest votes nationwide. But of the 46 elections for American presidency so far, there have been about 5 times when the person who got the highest overall votes from individual voters is different from the one who won the majority of the Electoral College. 

In year 2000, Al Gore beat George Bush (the son) by over one million votes. But George Bush won the Electoral College by 3 votes. In 2016, Hilary Clinton beat Donald Trump by over 3 million votes but lost to Donald Trump by 74 votes in the Electoral College. This year, Biden had seven million more votes than Trump. He also got 74 more Electoral College votes than Trump.

Note that the number of senators per state never changes. But the number of Reps changes every decade according to the census.  The populations of warmer states like California, Texas and Florida grow faster than those of the cold states. So adjustments are made every 10 years to the number of Reps that a state has. Some states would have more Reps; others would have less while some remain the same depending on increase, decrease or no change in population.

In 1960, Florida had 8 reps, Georgia had 10 Reps, New York had 43 Reps while Pennsylvania had 30 reps. 

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Currently, Florida has 27 Reps, Georgia has 14 reps, New York has 27 reps while Pennsylvania has 18. Florida and Georgia had gained more seats while New York and Pennsylvania lost seats. These big differences in representation reflect population migration either because of weather or because of job opportunities. Retirees migrate to the warmer states. 

The US had a census in 2020. The results will cause changes in the number of Reps allocated to some states in the next election (2022). 

If it were in the USA, Lagos for instance would long have picked additional seats in the House of Reps at the expense of Ekiti, Osun or Ebonyi.

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