US Electoral College

Lou Paulsen wwchi at
Thu Nov 9 23:03:24 MST 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: John Nolan <bricole at>

>How come the votes from overseas have not yet been returned if voting for
>Presidency is based on the electoral college system?
>Surely the electoral college votes cannot be decided till all votes come.
What kind of
>system is this?

(a) The election rules are determined by the states, not nationally.  In
Florida it happens to be the rule that overseas votes must be postmarked by
election day and must be counted for ten days afterward.
I believe most states require that the overseas votes arrive before election
day.  I don't believe the Florida vote has ever before been close enough
that the overseas votes might be decisive.

(b) In reality, or in theory, depending on how you look at it, the electoral
college votes are not decided until December.  In each state, the voters are
legally choosing among slates of electors.  Thus, in Florida, a vote for
Bush is really a vote for a group of 25 named individual Republicans who
have promised to vote for Bush.  If Bush were to be certified as the winner,
then, in December, these 25 Republicans would actually travel to the state
capital in Tallahassee and ceremoniously vote for Bush, probably by writing
his name on a piece of paper.  It is as stupid a waste of money as any
feudal remnant you find in Europe.

(c) These electors are not 100% guaranteed to vote for the people they have
promised to vote for.  Very very very infrequently, an elector will vote for
someone else.  Half of the states have laws which would punish the elector,
and half do not.  But in reality they are 99.9% reliable.

(d) So the short answer is that the "awarding" of the electoral votes which
takes place on election day is not legal.  It is all the predictions of the
media of how it will really come out.

Does that help?

Lou Paulsen

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