The United States uses a very confusing process to elect its presidents. Even many well-informed Americans do not know how their elect country elects a presidents.
A few important things to understand about American presidential elections include:
1. The American People Do not Elect the President
Instead an unelected body called the Electoral College elects the president. Most states chose electors based on a majority of the states’ popular vote. Therefore, Electoral College results can differ greatly from the national popular vote.
Two states; Maine and Nebraska, chose part of their electors based on a majority of the vote in congressional districts.
There is an effort called the National Popular Vote Compact. States that agree to the National Popular Vote Compact require their electors’ votes to reflect the national popular vote. If states containing Electoral College votes 270 votes adopt the Compact, Electoral College results could reflect the National Popular Vote.
As of July 2020, 15 states and the District of Columbia (Washington DC) had adopted the compact. Those jurisdictions have 196 Electoral College votes. Measures enacting the compact are on the ballot in several states; including Colorado, this fall.
Note: It is not clear if the National Popular Vote Compact is Constitutional. It is possible that the US Supreme Court could declare the Compact Unconstitutional and nullify it.
2. It is possible for somebody to lose the Popular Vote but be elected President
There have been five US presidential elections; 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016, in which the winner of the popular vote did not become president. In each of those elections, the winner of the Electoral College vote lost the popular vote.
3. We may not know the Winner of the US Presidential Election until days or weeks after Election Day
The United States is a large and diverse nation with 331 million residents and 50 states. Each state operates its own election system with different rules.
Hence all it will take is a few system failures; or problems counting votes, to delay the election results. This has happened several times most notably in 1876 when they did not determine the election results for several months until 1877.
In 2000, all three major US TV networks declared the wrong man; Vice President Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tennessee). winner of the presidential election. However, further vote counting showed that Governor George W. Bush (R-Texas) had actually won.
4. The US House of Representatives could decide the Presidential Election
If no candidate receives a sufficient number of votes in the Electoral College (at least 270), the US House of Representatives could pick the next president. Clause 3 of Section 1 of Article II of the US Constitution requires the House to choose a President if there is no clear winner in the Electoral College.
However, the House has not picked a president since 1824 when four major candidates split the vote. The 1824 House vote was controversial because a deal between John Quincy Adams (Massachusetts) and US Speaker of the House Henry Clay (Kentucky); made Adams who lost both the popular and Electoral Vote to Andrew Jackson (Tennessee), president. The unpopular Corrupt Bargain between Clay and Adams brought down America’s First Party System and led to winner take all elections.
5. The US Senate could Elect the Vice President
If there is no Electoral College winner the Constitution mandates that the US Senate chooses the Vice President. Hence, it is possible that America could get presidents and vice presidents of different parties.
For example, we could get a Republican Vice President and a Democratic President if Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House. However, it will be up to the 117th Congress which takes office on 3 January 2021 to chose the president and vice president. Nobody knows which parties will control either House of Congress until after the elections.
6. Nobody knows if the American people will accept a President Chosen by the House
Remember it has been 196 years since the U.S. House of Representatives elected a president. Moreover, that decision was controversial back then.
Only time will tell if 21st Century Americans will accept a president chosen by the House. However in 2017 Americans accepted a President who lost the popular vote Donald J. Trump (R-Florida). Earlier in 2000, Americans accepted a President George W. Bush (R-Texas) whom some people allege won office only with the help of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Thus it is entirely possible America could soon have a president many citizens consider illegitimate. That could lead to revolution or efforts to remove what some people consider a false President.
7. Voting in the US Presidential Election has already begun
Early voting and mail-voting is already underway in many American states.
In fact, the US Elections Project estimates Americans cast 2.896 million ballots before 2 October 2020. Therefore, a large percentage of Americans will vote long before Election Day on 3 November 2020.
8. Nobody knows what will happen if Trump dies or drops out of the race
On 1 October 2020, President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) revealed he had coronavirus. A day later on 2 October 2020, Trump entered the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment for the sometimes fatal infection.
Things could get real tricky if Trump dies or health problems force him to drop out of the presidential race. Medium Contributor Ben Jacobs notes that the last time a presidential candidate; Horace Greeley (D-New York), died during the election – it split the Electoral College vote.
To explain, President Ulysses S. Grant (R-Illinois) had already won the 1872 presidential election in a landslide. However, the courts set a precedent by declaring any Electoral College vote cast for Greeley invalid.
That precedent could create chaos today because the US Elections Project estimates hundreds of thousands of Americans have already cast ballots for Trump. The courts could declare those ballots invalid and throw the election to Joe Biden (D-Delaware). I think such a ruling could spark riots given the current state of the country.
What happens in that situation? Is it legal for Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) to run without a running mate? Or will Pence pick a running mate at the last minute. Vice President Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas)?
Will the Qnon Crowd vote for that ticket, or see the two as Deep State Puppets and turn on them? Only Joe Biden will benefit from that situation.
Or will they appoint a high-ranking Congressional Republican vice president.? Vice President Josh Hawley (R-Missouri)? That’s what happened after Vice President Spiro Agnew (R-Maryland) resigned in 1973. Remember, Agnew’s successor, Gerald R. Ford (R-Michigan) became President after Richard M. Nixon (R-California) resigned. Thus America could soon have an unelected President.
Everybody needs to watch America’s presidential election; scheduled for 3 November 2020, close because the results could be interesting.