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Ohio Professor Explains Function Of The Electoral College

Voters casting their ballots in the General Election do not directly elect the president.  That duty falls to electors in the Electoral College. [chrisdorney/Shutterstock]
Voters casting their ballots in the General Election do not directly elect the president. That duty falls to electors in the Electoral College. [chrisdorney/Shutterstock]

As voters cast their ballots in the 2020 General Election, it is worth remembering that while millions will make their choice between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, American voters do not directly elect the President.  Instead, the duty of formally selecting the president falls to the Electoral College and its delegates known as electors.

Instead of competing for the overall win in the popular vote the two campaigns will be seeking a majority of votes in the electoral college.  Usually the same candidate wins both the popular vote and a majority of electors.  But, in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than three million votes and lost to President Trump in the Electoral College.

The Electoral College has its supporters and detractors depending largely on political point of view.  But, the Electoral College’s purpose and function remains a source of confusion for voters.  Its existence serves as a reminder that the selection of the president was one of the most difficult issues faced by the framers of the Constitution.

Robert Alexander, Ph.D, of Ohio Northern University discusses the history and workings of the Electoral College on The Sound of Ideas.

 Later, the large number of mail-in ballots requested by voters in the 2020 election and the long lines at boards of election for early in-person voting indicates a high level of interest in the election.

The vote is likely to be close and the final result of the election will most likely hinge on a handful of swing or battleground states. These states will be the determining factor for either President Trump or challenger Joe Biden and put one or the other over the 270 electoral vote threshold for victory.

Several of those up-for-grabs states are here in the Great Lakes region.

The latest Great Lakes poll from Baldwin Wallace University, Ohio Northern University and Michigan’s Oakland University finds Joe Biden with a lead in Michigan and Wisconsin with the race closer in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The on-line poll conducted from the last day of September through October 8 surveyed self-identified, registered, likely voters in the four battleground Great Lakes states.

We conclude The Sound of Ideas with a selection from our October Applause Performance Spotlight.
For almost three decades the names Jackie Warren and Sammy DeLeon have been synonomous with Latin jazz music in Northeast Ohio. 

Ever since Warren (a piano player) and DeLeon (a percussionist) met in the Flats back in 19-91, they've been a musical force in Cleveland.

To honor National Hispanic Heritage Month, the duo joined ideastream's David C. Barnett recently for Applause Performances.

Applause Performances takes place every second Friday of the month. 

For More Information:

Baldwin Wallace Greate Lakes poll

  • Robert Alexander, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, Ohio Northern University, Author, "Representation and the Electoral College" 
  • Tom Sutton, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, Director, Community Research Institute, Baldwin Wallace University
  • Jackie Warren, Piano
  • Sammy DeLeon, Percussion
Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."