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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 08, 2023

Electoral College misunderstood, will vote Dec. 15

After voters cast their ballots and the results roll in this Election Day, the voting will not be over quite yet. 


The winner of the presidential election will not technically be official until the group of individuals known as the Electoral College cast their votes for president on Dec. 15. 


Whoever wins the popular vote in Wisconsin, either Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama or Republican presidential candidate John McCain, will earn the state's 10 electoral votes. 


The 10 electors from the winning party will meet at the Capitol and cast 10 votes for their presidential candidate. This practice is mainly ceremonial, according to Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke. 


The ceremony and the pomp and circumstance are far greater than their actual power. The election will decide who wins, not the electors,"" Wineke said. 


Wineke, who is a Democratic member of the Electoral College, said he is honored to be a part of the College, but many Americans do not understand the system. 


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""It's a great honor, but it's almost like some secret masonic handshake or something because nobody knows about it,"" Wineke said. 


About a month ago, both the Democratic and Republican parties met at the state Capitol to nominate the electors for their respective parties. For each party, there is one elector from each of Wisconsin's eight Congressional districts, in addition to two at-large electors. 


The Electoral College garnered some controversy after the presidential election in 2000, when President George Bush won the presidency with the Electoral College's vote while losing the popular vote to Democratic contender Al Gore. 


Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin and at-large elector for the Republican Party, said he agrees with the Electoral College system. 


""I certainly believe in the Constitution and the way that we select our presidents,"" Priebus said. 


Wineke agreed and said he believes the Electoral College has worked pretty well over the years. He said McCain and Obama would have ignored a lot of smaller states swing states, including Wisconsin, if they were not vying for their electoral votes. 


According to Wineke, candidates would only focus on highly populated areas of the country if the popular vote decided the election. 


In contrast, UW-Madison political science professor Barry Burden said he thinks the system is ""out of date"" and is undemocratic because votes in swing states carry more weight than votes in states that reliably vote Republican or Democratic. 


Burden said he is in favor of doing away with the Electoral College system, but that it would be very hard to change because it is in the Constitution. He suggested states distribute their Electoral College votes proportionately to better reflect the popular vote. 


Mike McCabe, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said he disagrees with the Electoral College system because it distorts the outcomes of elections. 


""It's possible to lose the election and still be elected president by simply winning the right states and there's something basically anti-democratic about that,"" McCabe said.

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