More than 100,000,000 Americans will vote for President by November 6th, but, the only numbers that count are those numbers on the Electoral Map. We see the count every Election Night. But have you ever wondered, who's a member of this Electoral College? How do they get so much power to decide an election?
270 is the magic number for Presidential candidates. They need just 270 votes to become the leader of more than 300,000,000 people.
In the he U.S. Constitution Article 2, section one, declares, "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in the congress. The result of this process is commonly known as the Electoral College.
"I've taught American National government, and one of the questions that I always have on the test, is what is the mascot of the Electoral College? Like a football team. And they realize that's not the case," said Doyle Webb, the Chairman of the State Republican Party, and a 2012 Elector.
"I've had people say, now where's this Electoral College? It's not a college. It's actually a process by which we go about electing the president," said Steve Jones, who is the Secretary of the State Democratic Party and a 2012 Elector.
That process has loose oversight. In Arkansas, state law puts the power fully in the hands of political parties.
The parties select their electors at their State Conventions. So, there are actually 12 potential electors. But, only six will cast their votes. There is no state law that requires the elector to vote for the winner of the popular vote, but, since the electors are vetted by the parties, there's a reasonable assurance, the electors will toe the party line.
"It's a real honor. Just to be thought enough of, because of your contributions to the party or to public service, to be asked to be a Presidential elector," Jones said.
Republican Party rules require the electors pledge in writing that they'll vote for the GOP nominee. But, there's never a guarantee that somebody won't go rogue.
"Theoretically, that could occur. Maybe it's a presidential race, and we determine it's a three vote difference. Well, that's the reason the parties, each set is very careful to chose loyal Republicans, in our case, or loyal Democrats in that case, that will vote for the party nominee," said Webb.
Arkansas is a winner takes all state. So, all six electors must go to the same candidate.
So, who can be chosen as an elector? the Constitution forbids members of Congress and federal employees. There are also geographic guidelines. There must be one elector from each of the state's Congressional districts, then two at-large. Past that. It's once again up to the parties.
"The Democratic party, the goal here is usually to make sure there is diversity, in geography, in gender, in ethnicity, and that probably was a driving goal for the Chairman," Jones said.
While it's the popular vote that gets the attention, it's not until the electors cast their vote the election is official.
"A lot of people think that electors go to Washington D.C. and cast their vote. This year it will occur on December 17th at noon. We'll actually go to the State Capitol. Electors from all the states will gather in that time frame and we will cast our votes at the same time. We will cast one vote for president. And we will cast another vote for vice president. It's not just a one ticket vote," Webb said.
In recent years, there have been efforts to change the system. But Webb says he likes it the way it is, especially for small states like Arkansas. Since every state starts with one electoral vote for each Senator, Webb says it gives Arkansas more say in the Presidential election than if it was decided by popular vote.