Thursday, November 1, 2012

Compete in the Electoral College Bowl -- Nov. 1, 2012 column

Every four years, Americans are confronted with the Electoral College, a vestige of the 18th century that still stalks our elections.  Test yourself on the Electoral College and why it matters with our 10-question quiz. Good luck, no peeking at the answers below, and may the best person win – without recounts.

1. On a presidential Election Day, voters elect:
A. The next president and vice president, stupid
B.  Members of Congress and federal officials who actually elect the president and VP  
C.  People other than in Congress and federal office who elect the president and VP  
D.  People legally bound to vote each state’s popular vote  

2. True or False:  “Electoral College” appears in the Constitution.   

3. What’s the Electoral College got to do with the Holy Roman Empire?
A. Nothing. Are you kidding?
B. The founders borrowed the election concept from the Holy Roman Empire
C. The term “college” comes from the Latin “collegium,” a group that acts as a unit, as in the college of cardinals
D. Both B and C

4.  Where is the Electoral College?
A. New York City
B. Washington
C. Philadelphia
D. None of the above

5. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 senators. How many electors are in the Electoral College?
A. 100
B. 435
C. 535
D. 538
6. True or False: A presidential election is over when a presidential candidate makes a concession speech.

7.  It takes a majority of electoral votes – 270 -- to win the White House. What happens if no candidate gets a majority?
A. The Senate elects the president
B. The House of Representatives elects the president
C. The Supreme Court elects the president
D. The 50 governors elect the president

8. How often has the winner of the nationwide popular vote for president not won the electoral vote?
A. Four times
B. Twice
C. Once
D. Never    

9. Who administers the Electoral College process?
A. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
B. U.S Department of Justice
C. Office of the Federal Register at the National Archives
D. None of the above 

10. True or False. There have been more proposals for constitutional amendments to change the Electoral College than on any other subject.

Bonus Question:  What happens on Dec. 17?

1. C.  The Electoral College, not the nationwide popular vote, determines who wins the election. The Constitution prohibits U.S. senators, representatives and anyone holding “an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States” from being electors. Neither the Constitution nor federal law requires electors to follow the popular vote; many states have such laws, but not all.  
2.  False. “Electors” appears in Article II and the 12th Amendment. But “electoral college” is not in the Constitution. The term came into use in the early 19th century and now is in federal law.
3. D. The founders were well educated.   
4.  D. Electoral College is a process, not a place. There’s no campus, no football team, no cheerleaders.
5. D. Each state’s electors equal the number of its U.S. House members and senators for a total of 535. The District of Columbia is treated as a state and gets three electors, thanks to the 23rd Amendment.  
6.  False. A concession speech has no bearing on the Electoral College process.
7. B. Each state’s House delegation gets one vote. The Senate elects the vice president, with each senator getting one vote. 
8. A.  In 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000.
9.  C. The office also provides the official text of all federal laws and presidential documents and runs the constitutional amendment process.  
10. True. More than 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College.
Bonus Question: That’s the day electors meet in the states to elect the president and VP.

SCORING:  10 points for each correct answer, plus 5 points for bonus.
85 to 100 -- Congratulations, you win the Electoral College bowl!
70 to 85 – Professor, tenure at the Electoral College is yours.
55 to 70 – Learned scholar, go to the head of the class.
55 to 70 – Politicians crave numbers like these.  
40 to 55 – Your insight is blog-worthy.        
25 to 40 -- Keep tweeting. Rome and the Electoral College weren’t built in a day.
Below 25 – There’s always 2016.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, briefing by Thomas Neale of Congressional Research Service at Washington Foreign Press Center,, the New York Times, “The Framing of the Constitution” by Max Ferrand.

 -- Compiled by Marsha Mercer

© 2012 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed taking your quiz on the Electoral College even though I did not make 100%. Interesting tidbits of information about a subject every good citizen should know. Another very worthwhile column by Ms. Mercer. This is why we look forward to it each week. Good work, indeed.