While I spent way too much time the past few days checking CNN, 538, Fox News, and Twitter for updates about the results of the election, I did learn a few civic-related things along the way.
First, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that a Presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election.
Second, thanks to how many times the term was mentioned, I was able to figure out what the word “tranche” meant. Here was an example of its use: Election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, are working to release one more tranche of votes before breaking for the night, CNN’s Kyung Lah reports from inside the county’s elections department in Phoenix. While the word seems to be used primarily in the world of finance, it can apply here to refer to a slice of the overall votes. I’d prefer if they just used the phrase “a bunch of votes”.
Third, I found out about the weird process we have if there was a tie in electoral votes. Here is the description from Wikipedia:
A presidential contingent election is decided by a special vote of the United States House of Representatives, while a vice-presidential contingent election is decided by a vote of the United States Senate. During a contingent election in the House, each state’s delegation casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, rather than a vote from each representative. Senators, on the other hand, cast votes individually for vice president.
- For President, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of state delegation votes (currently 26 votes) to become the president-elect. The House continues balloting until it elects a president. As a consequence of the state delegation voting method, the party that holds the majority in the House could still lose the contingent election if the minority party holds the majority of state delegations.
- For Vice-President, unlike in the House, senators cast votes individually in this election. Because the Senate votes independently from the House during a contingent election, the House’s presidential selection and the Senate’s vice presidential selection could be from opposing parties. Additionally, the 12th Amendment requires a “majority of the whole number” of senators (currently 51 of 100) to elect the vice president in a contingent election.
Imagine having a President and a Vice President from different parties!
Fourth, I learned another new word: psephologist. This is a person who focuses on the statistical study of elections and trends in voting. I think of Nate Silver as an example of such a person, but I think this past week, the U.S. just picked up a few million new psephologists…
I wonder if I’ll remember all this stuff four years from now…
*image from Sovereign Group