Question: When is the President of the United States elected?
Answer: Many of you are probably thinking this question is outdated, that there
was already a Presidential election this month. Well, although an election
did occur on November 8th as required by the United States Constitution,
the President of the United States was not actually elected on this date.
Article 1, Section 4 of the United States Constitution gives Congress the
authority to select a date for a National election to occur. In 1845,
Congress selected the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November
to be the Nation's general election date, as the harvest was in for
the year and such allowed farmers the time to vote. Therefore, on this
date in Presidential election years, eligible voters select a slate of
electors to represent each state at the Electoral College. In application,
with President-elect Donald J. Trump winning Florida on Election Day,
Florida will send a slate of 29 Electors to vote in the Electoral College
for Trump. The margin of victory in Florida is meaningless, as it is a
winner take all approach, meaning Trump gets all 29 Electors whether it
was a one vote difference or a one million vote difference.
So, when is the President actually elected? Title 1, Chapter 3, Section
7 of the United States Code states the Electoral College shall convene
the first Monday following the second Wednesday of December. Thus, in
2016, the President of the United States will officially be elected on
Monday, December 19th. The actual individuals serving as Electors are
selected by their political party. Thus, in 2016, both the Republican
and Democratic parties had a slate of Electors ready to represent Florida,
and on Tuesday, November 8th, Florida voters chose to send the Republican
slate of Electors to vote in the Electoral College on December 19th.
The Electoral College was created to protect smaller states from being
overrun by larger states, as without the Electoral College a Presidential
candidate could win the Presidency simply by catering to larger states.
To illustrate, in 2016 a Presidential election based upon the popular
vote would have resulted in the candidates simply catering to the larger
population bases in California, Texas, Florida and New York, with disregard
for the remaining smaller states. Most states have a winner take all approach
to the Electoral College, just like Florida. Therefore, candidates adjust
their campaigns accordingly, writing off a state once it is safely in
the hands of the other candidate, as the margin of victory or defeat is
meaningless under the winner take all approach for selecting which slate
of Electors will represent said state in the Electoral College. Such is
why it is always a glaring misunderstanding of the process whenever someone
points to the final popular vote, as in reality
both candidates would have campaigned differently had the popular vote mattered,
rather than the Electoral College.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, as we give thanks for our families, and
our freedom to live in such a great Nation.