With the presidential election closing in, it’s all about the 538 electoral votes.

The Electoral College consists of 538 members, or electors, who cast votes to decide the president and the vice president of the U.S.

Citizens cast their vote for a candidate for president and vice president. The outcome of the vote in each state determines a slate of electors who will make the actual choice of president and vice president. The candidate with an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes earns the presidency.

Each state and the District of Columbia is apportioned electors equal to the number of Congress members the state has. With 38 electoral votes, Texas is among the six states with the most electoral votes, just behind California.

The Electoral College dates back to the first presidential election in 1792, when President George Washington was running unopposed, political science professor Thomas Marshall said. The system was just a way of wrapping up the election, he said.

“It has no substantive meaning,” Marshall said. “It’s simply an odd, vote counting rule from 1792.”

In most states, whoever comes in first gets all the electoral votes. Nebraska and Maine do not follow the winner-takes-all rule, Marshall said.

Music senior Jonathan Vela said it’s important to have a professional delegation with the slate of electors’ vote to who becomes the president. Often, voters are automatically biased and are not as informed about their candidate’s policies, he said.

The system does affect voters indirectly, Marshall said. For example, 30 to 45 states are known for voting one of the two major political parties over the other, decreasing voter turnout, Marshall said.

Texas has voted Republican since 1976. In recent polls, Texas has been declared as a swing state, with a single digit difference in the polls.

“American politics tends to go on auto pilot for many years, and Electoral College is a supreme example of that,” Marshall said.

Omar Johnson, philosophy and chemistry senior, said voting counts indirectly because public opinion and citizens’ votes can influence and are supposed to represent the decisions made by the Electoral College.

“What we say matters to them,” Johnson said. “What they say matters to who becomes the president.”



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