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America

Why It Takes 270 To Win USA Elections

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(CNN)Americans who go to the polls on Election Day don’t actually select the President directly.

They are technically voting for 538 electors who, according to the system laid out by the Constitution, meet in their respective states and vote for President and Vice President. These people, the electors, comprise the Electoral College, and their votes are then counted by the President of the Senate in a joint session of Congress.
Why did the framers choose this system? There are a few reasons: First, they feared factions and worried that voters wouldn’t make informed decisions. They didn’t want to tell states how to conduct their elections. There were also many who feared that the states with the largest voting populations would essentially end up choosing the President.
 Others preferred the idea of Congress choosing the President, and there were proposals at the time for a national popular vote. The Electoral College was a compromise.
The stain of slavery is on the Electoral College as it is on all US history.
The formula for apportioning congressmen, which is directly tied to the number of electors, relied at that time on the 3/5 Compromise, whereby each slave in a state counted as fraction of a person to apportion congressional seats.
This gave states in the South with many slaves more power despite the fact that large portions of their populations could not vote and were not free.

How it works

There’s an elector for every member of the House of Representatives (435) and Senate (100), plus an additional three for people who live in the District of Columbia.
Each state gets at least 3 electors. California, the most populous state, has 53 congressmen and two senators, so they get 55 electoral votes.
Texas, the largest reliably Republican-leaning state, has 36 congressmen and two senators, so they get 38 electoral votes.
Six states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming — are so small, population-wise, that they only have one congressperson apiece, and the lowest possible three electoral votes.
The District of Columbia also gets three electoral votes. Voters in Puerto Rico and other non-state territories get no electoral votes, although they can take part in presidential primaries.
The states are in charge of selecting their own electors. And a number of states do not require their electors to honor the election results, which has led, occasionally, to the phenomenon known as a “faithless elector.”
It takes 270 electoral votes to get a majority of the Electoral College. The total number of electors — 538 — cannot change unless there are more lawmakers added on Capitol Hill or a constitutional amendment.
But the number of electors allocated to each state can change every 10 years, after the constitutionally-mandated Census.
The number of congressmen is reapportioned — that’s the technical term — according to changes in the population. Some states gain a House seat or two and others lose some.
No state, no matter how small, can have zero members of Congress. But this is why there’s been heated political debate over whether the US Census should ask if someone is a citizen.
Some fear that asking it could make an accurate population count more difficult, or that states with many immigrants could end up with fewer lawmakers in elections starting in 2022, after the 2020 Census is complete.
If there’s a tie among the electors or if nobody gets a majority, then the election goes to the House of Representatives. Each state’s delegation of lawmakers gets one vote and they choose between the top three electoral vote-getters. According to the 12th Amendment, if nobody gets a majority by a certain deadline, the Vice President becomes President. If there’s no majority for the Vice President, the House delegations are excused and only the senators choose the Vice President. The 20th Amendment changed the deadline from March 4 to January 20.
Most states (except for Maine and Nebraska, which split some of their electoral votes) give all their electoral votes to the person who wins the popular vote in that state.
There are very Democratic parts of Texas and very Republican parts of California, for instance. But unless those states move to apportion their electoral votes differently, it is only the state popular vote that really matters.

Who likes this system?

A popular vote system certainly would be simpler to understand.
However, as proponents of the Electoral College point out, if you thought that recount in Florida in 2000 was nasty, imagine a nationwide recount of more than 130 million votes. THAT would be messy. And it could happen. Some states have automatic recounts for elections that are separated by less than .1% In 2016, with 136 million voters, that would have been a margin of around 136,000 votes. You can imagine a recount in the razor-thin election of 1960, which featured a less-than .2% difference in vote totals, but a solid Electoral College victory for John F. Kennedy.
One of the most important supporters is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has weighed in against the idea of a national popular vote effort on the Senate floor.
Some defenses of the Electoral College have a racial tinge. Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage said that without the Electoral College, white people will have less say, which is quite sad considering the 3/5 Compromise helped bring about the Electoral College in the first place.
“Actually what would happen if they do what they say they’re gonna do is white people will not have anything to say,” LePage said, according to reports. “It’s only going to be the minorities that would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida. All the small states like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, Montana, Rhode Island, you’ll never see a presidential candidate again. You’ll never see anybody at the national stage come to our state,” he said. “We’re gonna be forgotten people. It’s an insane, insane process.”
But 65 percent of Americans supported selecting the President by popular vote, compared to 32% who preferred the Electoral College in a June 2018 PRRI/Atlantic survey. There’s less support if the wording includes changing the Constitution. A Pew survey in March of 2018 asked if Americans supported amending the Constitution to select the President by popular vote and a smaller 55%, still a popular majority, endorsed the idea.
However, the Electoral College is written into the Constitution and changing the Constitution is very difficult. It takes years to accomplish and requires broad majorities in Congress or state legislatures. States that currently benefit from the Electoral College would have to give up some of that power. The other possibility is something like the aforementioned agreement by states to honor the national popular vote winner. But you can bet if that proposal takes hold, there will be lawsuits.
That said, the Electoral College has actually changed three times, each by constitutional amendment. The 12th Amendment, passed after the tie election of 1800 (read about it!) made it so that electors voted for President and Vice President instead of voting for two people who could be President. The 20th Amendment put a time limit on the process. The 23rd Amendment gave electors to the District of Columbia.
And there was a serious move decades ago to abolish the Electoral College altogether. In 1968, a proposal to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system easily passed in the House. It was filibustered in the Senate.
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America

US Honours Victims of ‘September 11’ Terror Attacks

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Memorial events are being held this saturday across the United States in honour of victims of the September 11 terror attacks on its territory 20 years ago.

According to White House, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden plan to visit all three sites where the attacks unfolded: The World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Shanksville with second gentleman Doug Emhoff before they join the Bidens at the Pentagon.

The 20th anniversary comes amid the backdrop of the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from its war in Afghanistan, which was started in response to the attacks.

Biden last week also directed the declassification of certain documents related to the attacks, which the families of some victims have sought in hopes of implicating the Saudi government.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks when 19 al-Qaida attackers hijacked four commercial airplanes in a plot orchestrated by Osama bin Laden.

Two planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center before American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

The passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 fought back against the hijackers before the plane crashed into the filed, missing its intended target in Washington.

The anniversary marks a transitional moment as awareness of the attacks moves from memory to history, said Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

“The 20th anniversary, in my view, … is the first of the next generation of remembrances,” said Dan Murphy, who is on the team designing the planned visitor education center at the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial site.

“There’s been 19 times we’ve read the names, we’ve talked about that moment, we’ve somberly looked back. That will never, ever go away. But … on the 20th anniversary, I think this is the first time we talk about 9/11 into the future.”

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America

Trump Acquitted For Second Time Following Historic Senate Impeachment trial

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The USA Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial Saturday, voting that Trump was not guilty of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol — but the verdict amounted to a bipartisan rebuke of the former President with seven Republicans finding him guilty.The final vote was 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict.

Held exactly one month after the House impeached Trump, the number of Republican senators who voted against Trump ended up higher than even what Trump’s legal team had anticipated, marking a stark departure from the first impeachment trial last year when only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, found Trump guilty.

This time, Republicans Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Romney voted to convict Trump.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Burr, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman who led the Senate’s Russia investigation, after he voted earlier in the week that the trial was unconstitutional.

Both Burr and Toomey are retiring from the Senate at the end of 2022.

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America

Obama Presidential Center Groundbreaking For August

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On Wednesday, the US federal review process concluded and effectively paving the way for Obama Presidential Center that had stalled for four years.

“Today, after a comprehensive federal regulatory review process, I’m proud to announce the Obama Presidential Center will break ground in 2021,” Former US President Barak Obama said on Wednesday.

“Michelle and I couldn’t be more excited to bring this new center of energy, connection, and growth to the South Side of Chicago. Along with the thousands of jobs it will create, our hope is that the Obama Presidential Center can serve as a catalyst for long-overdue investment in and around historic Jackson Park. That’s why we’re working with local partners to create a new destination to help inspire visitors from hope to action, breathe new life into the park, and deliver real benefits to the community we love,” Obama added.

He explained that getting to this point would not have been possible without the many Chicagoans who have been a part of this process. “So I want to thank each and every person out there who helped us reach this milestone—and for their continued partnership in the years to come.”

Federal agencies closed the final review into the project after determining the Obama center’s construction and nearby roadway fixes would not pose a “significant impact” on the environment, according to city and Obama Foundation officials.

With other federal reviews looking into factors such as the project’s effects on historic properties also recently ending, that means preliminary work can start in April and groundbreaking can likely begin as early as August. The Obama Foundation estimates construction will take about four years.

In 2016, Obama announced that Jackson Park, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Woodlawn, would be the destination of his future presidential center, at the time scheduled to open in 2021.

His choice was heralded by supporters who hoped the project would help revitalize neighboring communities and become a source of pride for South Side locals and visitors alike.

The groundbreaking of the $500 million campus will include a museum, Obama Foundation offices, a public library branch, an athletic center and an outdoor recreation space.

Its opening initially had been set for this year, but four years of obstacles have stood in the project’s way, at times leaving supporters with dashed hopes as groundbreaking repeatedly was delayed.

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