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Election Day is Just the Beginning: How the Electoral College Works

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Today voters are expected to turn out in record numbers in our state.

The United States is a representative democracy, not direct.

So that means today, we will be choosing our state’s electors — just another step in the process of choosing our president.

The people get to speak today, but there are more steps down the road.

We had a political science professor break down the process.

“It’s mentioned right there at the beginning section one article two. It’s the way in which the founders envisioned the president would be selected,” said Central Michigan University Political Science chairperson and professor.

Today we’re not directly selecting our president – we’re choosing our electors. Now Michigan has 16 of them because we have 14 congressional districts and two senators.

“It was this idea that the majority could be easily swayed by emotional appeals.”

So the electors, chosen during the primaries by each political party, pledge their loyalty and vote for president.

Their vote *usually reflects the popular vote, but not always.

“It is conceivable, just like we saw recently in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote. More Americans voted for Al Gore than they did for George W. Bush.”

The Electoral College is made up of 538 people who will vote next month to select the president, based on whom we choose today.

That number equals the 100 senators and 438 representatives in the House of Representatives.

“About half the states require those electors cast their ballot for whoever won the state in the winner take All system.”

Michigan is one of those states — and partly why we’re so crucial this cycle.

The electors will vote in December, and whoever gets 270 plus votes from the College will be named president.

But if that doesn’t happen…

“Even conceivably this ending up in a tie where each candidate receives 269 electoral votes, then the election would be determined in January in the House of Representatives.”

Jesuit calls this a realigning election — and says everyone should vote because the impact of today’s outcome will be felt for years.

“It might mean waiting in line for hours. But I think it’s one of those times you make that sacrifice for the country and you wait in line for as long as it takes to cast your ballot.”