The United States presidential election is considered as the longest and most controversial election in the world. The process from polling public opinion until becoming President is a complex process with multiple voting periods. There are many questions rised around the United States election results, particularly about the election result in 2000 between two presidential candidates George Walker Bush and Albert Arnold Gore. In this paper, first, I will give some Basic knowledge about United States presidential election then discuss the issue why George W. Bush became United States President although Al Gore got more votes.
Basic knowledge about United States presidential election
The procedure of United States presidential election
Law of United States stipulates that the presidential election will be held every four years, on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Hence, the earliest election date of the year will be on the 2nd of November and the latest one will be on the 8th of November.
The electoral process consists of two phases: the election of the candidates within each parties called the Primary Election and the election among the candidates who won the Primary Election called the General Elections.
Primary Election: This is the process of candidates competing within their own party, with the aim of becoming the sole representative of the party in the election. The campaign period is from January to June of the year when the election takes place. The winner of the campaign will nominate a candidate to be associated with the campaign.-
General Election: After the parties have elected their representatives as presidential candidates for the election, the candidates of the parties will continue campaigning for the presidency.
The manner of United States presidential election
Presidents and Vice Presidents are the constitutional officers of the Federal Government, for a term of four years. President and Vice President are elected in the following manner:
The President and Vice President are not directly elected by the citizens but by the electors of the states. Electors will meet in each state and elect the President and Vice President by ballot. The President and Vice President must not be residents of the same state.
There are two different ballots: presidential votes and vice presidential votes. The results of the elections will be forwarded to the government and presented to the President of the Senate in two folders, one is the list of presidential candidates; the other is the list of vice presidential candidates. Each includes the corresponding number of votes.
The President of the Senate, in the presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives, will open all certified folders and count the votes. The person who gets more than 50 percent votes of the electors will win the election and become the President of the United States.
In case no one wins an absolute majority of votes of the electors, a contigent election will be held. The House of Representatives will decide the contigent President election. Only the three candidates with the most electorial vote are admitted as candidates in this election, whereas the Senate will decide the contigent Vice President election. Only the two candidates, who receive the highest number of votes in the electorial vote are elected in this election.
How does Electoral College works
Each state will nominate a certain number of electors equal to the total number of Representatives of the state and two Senators. The District of Columbia, although it is not a state and has no voting right in Congress, still has three electoral votes. After the nationwide presidential election held in November, the Electoral College will meet in December. In most states, the electors vote based on how most voters in their state voted. Electors cast their votes in their respective states on December 15, and the National Assembly votes in January next.
Most states provide electoral votes on the basis of “all or zero”. The candidate receiving the most votes of citizens of a state will receive all of this state’s electoral votes. One consequence of the “all or zero” system is that one candidate may win the most popular votes but lose the election. Imagine that candidate A wins in a big state with a close result and that state has a lot of electoral votes. The candidate A will still receive all electoral votes of that state. At the same time, the candidate A may lose in some smaller states with a big gap and receive fewer popular votes than another candidate. But the candidate A will still have an advantage in the Electoral College. For example, the candidate A wins in California with a close result but still receives all 55 electoral votes of this state. Then, the candidate A loses in Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky, Ohio with a big gap in popular votes. However, the total electoral votes of these four states are just 33 votes. Hence, although the candidate A loses the popular votes, he/she may still get an advantage because of higher electoral votes.
However, this is still important for candidates running campaigns in all states, including those with smaller populations and fewer electoral votes, to receive a higher total number of electoral votes.3 Conclusion President and Vice President are elected by the electors of the states and are not directly elected by popular votes. In 2000, the Electoral College consisted of 538 electors; and a candidate needed at least 270 electoral votes to win the presidential election. In this year, George Bush got more votes from the electors, hence, he won the 54th quadrennial presidential election even though he lost in popular votes.