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How Does the Electoral College Work?

1 of the Main Reasons It's So Hard to Understand Why Hillary Clinton Lost

If you feel devastated and puzzled that while Hillary Clinton actually received more individual votes, she will not be the next president, grab a tissue and allow us to explain what happened.

The United States voting process is centred on the electoral college, which is an organised group that elects the president and vice president. Each state gets a certain number of electors (representatives who actually vote) based on the size of its population. Highly populated states like California get more electors (55), while smaller states like Vermont get fewer (three). Most states have a winner-takes-all rule instead of a proportional allocation of votes.

When you voted on Nov. 8, you were actually choosing for electors who will vote on your behalf on Dec. 19. There are 538 electoral votes, and a candidate needs more than half (270) to win.

This means that while more people could have voted for Clinton (they did!), Trump still won because he got more electoral votes. According to The New York Times, Clinton received 60,514,839 votes (47.7 percent) and Trump got 60,085,445 votes (47.5 percent), yet she only pulled in 228 electoral votes and he tallied up 279.

This has happened four other times in our history when the candidate who won the popular vote lost the electoral vote and the election. The most recent example was in 2000, when Al Gore received more than half a million votes more than George W. Bush but still did not take the Oval Office.

And yes, sometime electors do go rogue, but according to The New York Times, these "faithless electors," as they are called, have never changed the final presidential results.

Given the outcome on this election, tens of thousands of people are now signing petitions to abolish the electoral college system. But as the Washington Post points out, Democrats "have virtually no power to make that happen — and even they did have any power, it'd be immensely difficult," since it is written into our Constitution.

At the end of the day, the Clinton vs. Trump election was extremely close, and if you were on the electoral losing side, know that there are many people (close to 60 million) who likely agree with you on several topics.

This is the time to meet with others (both like minded and not) to discuss the issues, donate to nonprofits you believe in supporting (such as Planned Parenthood), and make your voice heard to your state representatives. Then, in 2018 and 2020, encourage other millennials to vote, because the fate of the country will fall into your generation's hands.

Image Source: Getty
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