PDG Prof Graham Jones worked for many years as a Professor of Mathematics in the USA, and has a deep understanding of their electoral system. He is also deeply involved in the fundraising for the Griffith University’s Malaria Vaccine Project, and provided us with a brief update on this. But on to the US Elections:
 
A graph of US States’ results in 2016 (see Graham's PowerPoint slides in the Download Section) showed a sea of red (for Trump) of 304 Electoral College votes, against 227 for Clinton. “It was not even close” Graham outlined… “But have a look at the Popular Vote, and you see that Trump was 3 Million votes behind Clinton, yet Trump won the Elections.”  Graham went on to explain the US system of House of Representatives and Senate, somewhat similar to Australia’s, with the former represented on the basis of population (435 members), whereas the Senate has just two Senators per state (100 members).  So, for every House of Representatives and Senate seat, there is one Electoral College (EC) vote, plus 3 votes for the District of Columbia (Washington). Thus, in total there are 538 EC votes.  
 
Graham briefly went back to historical times of the first Presidential Election in 1789 when there were just 10 states, when George Washington won with 69 out of 138 EC votes. John Adams, who came second, became Vice President. (It’s not within the scope of this article to elaborate).
 
Now to the crux of the matter: Where does the people’s vote come in? Well, in all but two states (Nebraska and Mayne), all the Electoral College votes go to the winner of the popular vote. Thus, for example, were Trump to win California by just one vote, all of the 55 EC votes of that state would go to Trump. To win the Presidency, the candidate thus needs to win a total of 270 (half + 1) of 538 EC votes. Votes are cast by Electors (delegates) on 14th December. The winner is formally declared on 6th January.  
 
“But what if no winner can be declared, due to disputes, legal wrangling?” was your Editor’s question. Well, in that case Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Reps will take over temporarily, and if she is not available, the next in line is Senator Chuck Grassley, aged 87…
 
The meeting was recorded on Zoom.  If you would like a link (members only), please let me know. Ed.