COLUMBUS, Ohio (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) -Americans don’t elect the president. They elect people who elect the president, our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer said.
That group of 538 people is called the Electoral College and since it was created in 1788, the college has selected the next U.S. president. (With 69 electoral votes, President George Washington won the support of each participating elector in 1789.)
The popular vote elects governors, city council members, coroners and local judges – but not the president. In fact, five presidents have won the election without receiving a plurality of the popular vote, including President Donald Trump in 2016 and President George W. Bush in 2000.
That indirect method of selecting a president makes the United States of America unique among other democracies. More than half of the world’s democracies elect their leader directly, according to the Pew Research Center.
Only the United States uses the elector method. Other countries that select their leaders indirectly typically have the national legislature pick the next head of state.
The U.S. Electoral College comprises 538 delegates. The total represents the number of U.S. senators: 100 (two per state); the number of U.S. representatives: 435; and three electors for the District of Columbia. Ohio has 18 electors.
A presidential candidate needs a majority to win: 270.
How are electors selected?
The U.S. Constitution indicates electors cannot be members of Congress or hold federal office. The 14th Amendment added that electors cannot be “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
After those baseline requirements, states are given latitude to determine how electors are selected. Ohio law requires its political parties to nominate presidential electors. In other states, electors are selected by the governor or another body.
The Ohio Republican Party selected its electors at a Sept. 18 meeting. Because Trump won the state’s popular vote over former Vice President Joe Biden, those 18 people will be Ohio’s electors. At least two are Black; eight are women.
Who are Ohio’s electors?
- 1st district: former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell
- 2nd district: GOP central committee member Bonnie Ward, of Waverly
- 3rd district: Barbara Clark, of Columbus
- 4th district: Allen County Republican Party Chairman Keith Cheney
- 5th district: Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Mark Wagoner
- 6th district: Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson
- 7th district: Former Sen. Joy Padgett, of Coshocton
- 8th district: GOP central committee member Patti Alderson, of West Chester
- 9th district: Former Cleveland police union leader Steve Loomis
- 10th district: Former Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott
- 11th district: Patricia Weber, of Akron
- 12th district: Trump’s Ohio adviser Bob Paduchik
- 13th district: Karen Arshinkoff, the wife of the late Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff
- 14th district: Cleveland-area businessman Jim Wert, the Trump campaign’s 2020 finance chairman in Ohio
- 15th district: Jim Canepa, of Dublin, Ohio’s superintendent of liquor control
- 16th district: Ohio Republican Party leader Jane Timken
- At-large: Madison Gesiotto, a conservative commentator who won Miss Ohio USA 2014
- At-large: Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor and CEO of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump.
The Republican party also selected several alternates if those individuals cannot serve.
Who are Kentucky’s electors?
- 1st district: Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee member Richard J. Grana
- 2nd district: Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee member Laura LaRue
- 3rd district: Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee member Jack L. Richardson IV
- 4th district: Former Bracken County Judge-Executive Earl Bush
- 5th district: Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee member Bob M. Hutchison
- 6th district: Ken Kearns II, of Lexington
- At-large: Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee member Carol Rogers
- At large: Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee member Ellen Williams
How are electors doled out?
Forty-eight states, including Ohio, award electors based on a winner-take-all approach. For example, Trump won 53.4% of the vote in Ohio, according to final, unofficial results, but he won all 18 of the state’s electors.
Two states, Maine and Nebraska, award electoral votes by congressional district and two votes based on the statewide winner. For that reason, Biden won three electors and Trump won one elector in Maine. Trump won four electors and Biden won one in Nebraska.
When does the Electoral College vote?
The Electoral College will vote on Dec. 14 in their various states. Ohio’s electors will vote at noon at the state capitol, per state law.
Congress meets in a joint session to count the electoral votes on Jan. 6, and Inauguration Day is Jan. 20.
Can the Electoral College go rogue?
Ohio law requires its electors to cast their ballots for the winner of the state’s popular vote, certified by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Some states fine or replace electors who try to go rogue, but Ohio isn’t one of them.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that states can remove or punish electors who refuse to vote for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.
The case reached the Supreme Court, in part, because a Colorado elector tried to vote for then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich over Democrat Hillary Clinton who won the state. His vote was thrown out and replaced with an elector who selected Clinton.
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