Monday, November 3, 2008

The Electoral College, Hour by Hour

The Electoral College itself doesn't meet for some time, but should the electors choose to honor the wishes of the voters in their states, we will begin to know Electoral College (also see my note) results by 4:00 pm Pacific Time on Tuesday.

The Green Papers includes a page that lists poll closing times throughout the United States, as well as the number of electoral votes for each state.

Time zones definitely come into play here - for example, Indiana and Kentucky polls close at 6:00 pm local time, but because both states span the Eastern and Central time zones, there's a one-hour lag between the time that the eastern precincts close and the time that the western precincts close.

Taking that into account, electoral vote decisions may be available according to the following schedule (all times Pacific Standard Time):

  • 0 electoral votes by 11:00 am PST, and 0 electoral votes by 3:00 pm PST. Why am I talking about early times with no electors? Because the polls in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands close at 11:00 am PST and 3:00 pm PST, respectively; however, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are not eligible to cast ballots for President. (It wasn't until recently that the District of Columbia received the presidential voting privilege, and DC is still unable to seat voting representatives in Congress.)

  • 58 electoral votes by 4:00 pm PST. This is when all polls close in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

  • 25 new electoral votes by 4:30 pm PST. Ohio and West Virginia.

  • 171 new electoral votes by 5:00 pm PST. Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the aforementioned District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hsmpshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The biggest prizes in this pack are Florida with 27 electoral votes, and Illinois and Pennsylvania with 21 electoral votes each.

  • 21 new electoral votes by 5:30 pm PST. (Incidentally, there are 275 total electoral votes at this point.) The two new states are Arkansas and North Carolina.

  • 156 new electoral votes by 6:00 pm PST. This is when we get Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The biggies here are Texas (34) and New York (31).

  • 20 new electoral votes by 7:00 pm PST. These are the votes from Iowa, Montana, Nevada, and Utah.

  • 84 new electoral votes by 8:00 pm PST. My home state of California (with 55 electoral votes) will be counted by this time, as will Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington.

  • By 9:00 pm PST, the polls in America Samoa will close. Too bad; they can't vote for President.

  • The last electoral votes will be counted at 10:00 pm PST, when Alaska's 3 electoral votes are registered.

  • But that's not it for voting. The Northern Marianas polls close at 1:00 am PST on Wednesday, and the polls in Guama close an hour later, at 2:00 am PST.
Bill Handel and Rich Marotta were discussing electoral timing on KFI radio on Monday morning. They both noted that if some of the contested states break for Obama early, and if other states (such as California) turn blue, we may informally be looking at an Obama victory before I leave work on Tuesday. (I say "informally" because the networks are often reluctant to declare a state until after the polls have officially closed. Therefore, the networks will wait 18 hours to tell us that Obama has won California.) If, however, McCain does well in many of the contested states, it may be a long night.

And, technically, the election isn't over until next year. Here's the schedule of what will happen in December...and January:

December 15, 2008 - Meeting of Electors: The electors in each State meet to select the President and Vice President of the United States. The electors record their votes on six "Certificates of Vote," which are paired with the six remaining original "Certificates of Ascertainment." The electors sign, seal and certify the packages of electoral votes and immediately send them to the President of the Senate, the Archivist of the United States and other designated Federal and State officials.

December 24, 2008 - Deadline for Receipt of Electoral Votes: The President of the Senate, the Archivist of the United States, and other designated Federal and State officials must have the electoral votes in hand.

January 6, 2009 - Counting Electoral Votes in Congress: The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes (unless Congress passes a law to change the date).

So, as you see, the Electoral College doesn't meet all together. Each of the Electoral College members meet in their dorms (51 dorms spread all over the place), cast their votes, and then order pizza.

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