Making Sense of the Electoral College

December 7, 2016 - Brian Tyree Henry 12/07/2016 Views: 64,948

As the Electoral College prepares to make Donald Trump's presidency official, Thomas Jefferson (Jordan Klepper) explains why the Constitution calls for special electors. (7:37)

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The holidaysare right around the corner,

and because Donald Trumpis going to be president,

Santa can't cometo America anymore

because he's a flying immigrantwith a beard.

-(laughter, applause)-And... it's still hard.

It's still hardto get used to the fact

that Donald Trumpwill be president,

especially because he lostby two and a half million votes.

But then,he won the electoral college,

which is all that matters.

It's almost likebeing in a relationship.

You know how in relationshipsquality time matters more

than the quantity of time.

Like you'll get into fightslike, "Why are you so angry?

I hung out with youall weekend!"

She'll be like, "Yeah,but you spent hours sleeping."

-You're like, "It was night!"-(laughter)

And then, all of a sudden,it doesn't count.

And if you're like me,you probably thought

that on election day

Americans were going tothe polls to elect a president.

But if you did vote, your votedidn't go to Clinton or Trump

or the best third-partycandidate out there-- Harambe.

He may be dead, my friends,

but at least he knowswhere Aleppo is.

When people voted, they wereactually voting for electors

who are basically a bunch

of locally-appointedrepresentatives

who then vote on your behalf.

Which, again,makes no sense to me.

Do you understandhow weird that is?

That's like going to a deli,

but for some reason,you can't order for yourself.

You are just thereat the counter like,

"Hey, uh,can I have a sandwich?"

And then there's some guywho's like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa.

I got this.Hey, can he have a sandwich?"


It's a bizarre twiston an already bizarre system

because there are two waysto pick a president.

There's giving it to the personwith the most votes,

-commonly known as democracy.-(laughter)

And then,there's how America does it.

We're the only democracyin the world

that doesn't countthe popular vote.

This is the second timein 16 years

that the person cominginto The White House

has lost the popular vote.

MAN: Under the electoral college system,

a candidate who wins the most votes

gets all of that state's electoral votes.

A candidate can win millions of individual votes

in a state like Florida

and still lose all that state's electoral votes

because they lost the popular vote there.

Now if that sounded confusing,that's because it (bleep) is.


The personwith more votes should win.

This is a weird system

because no other countrydecides elections this way.

It's even weird in America,you understand that.

You don't elect mayors like thisin America.

You don't elect governorslike this.

-You don't even elect Idolslike this. -(laughter)

The presidency is the onlyoffice, where, for some reason,

you don trustthe popular vote.

And by the way,this is not about Trump.

You know the system is broken

because the personwith more votes lost

in twoof the last five elections.

That's 40%. 40%.

If a plumber told me

that every timeI flushed my toilets,

there'd be a 40% chance (bleep)would spray back at me...


...I'd be like,"Maybe I need a new toilet."

But America is like, "I've hadthis toilet for 200 years.

I'll be fine. I'll be fine."

-(imitates water whooshing) -"Trump! Trump!"

-(laughter)-"Aah! Aah! That was horrible.

-All right, next election. Aah."-(laughter)

And you know what makesthe system even worse

is that even if you didn't votefor the candidate,

you still end up votingfor the candidate.

WOMAN: In most states, whoever wins the most votes

takes all the electoral votes

in what's called "winner take all."

In the vast majority of states,you just need to win by one vote

to get all the electoral votesin the state.

You see that?That makes so sense.

The winner shouldn't getthe loser's votes.

Can you imagine how badthe Olympics would be

if they gave the winnerall the medals?

That wouldn't be fun.That's not fair.

Yeah, that's not fair.

You love Usain,but that's not fair.

What about the Russians, huh?What about the Russians?

They took so many drugsto get there.

-Come on, Usain! Come on!-(laughter)

"Winner take all" meansthat in big states,

even if a second-place candidategets millions of votes,

the electoral collegedon't give a (bleep).

So the nearlyfour million people

who voted for Hillary in Texas,

or the two and a half millionwho voted for Trump in New York,

they just don't count.

They're like lines of dialoguein a Fast and Furious movie.

They're there,but they have no real value.

-(laughter)-But like it or hate it,

the electoral collegeis here to stay.

It's even writteninto the Constitution.

And, for me, whenever there'sa constitutional matter

on the show,we turn to the original source.

I don't know about you,

but whenever I'min a constitutional crisis,

I open up my favorite app.

It's called Founding Fathr.


Just hold on.

There we go.

(zapping, whooshing)

Who summons mefrom ye olde store...

made of apps?

Thomas Jefferson,this is Trevor Noah.

-I have a question. -Okay,I know what you're going to say.

Yes, chances areyou are descended from me.

(chuckles)But... all the money's gone,


No, no.

No, uh, Mr. Jefferson,it's not about that.

It's aboutthe electoral college.

-Oh.-Why does America need electors

to pick a president?

Why not just trustthe popular vote?

(laughing loudly)

"Trust the popular vote"!

What a good joke!

Now I see why this showdoes so well with millennials.

You see, Trevor, in my day,

we didn't tally a popular votefor president,

we believed that common peoplewere ill-informed

and couldn't be relied on toreject the populist demagogues.

So we devised electorsto ensure that America

would never elect a dangerous,charismatic lunatic.

-(laughter)-Yeah. Well, actually,

I don't knowif that worked out, you see,

because the electoral college,

America's handingthe White House,

because of them,to a racist white guy

instead of a more popular,more qualified woman.

Sounds likeit's working perfectly.

-What's the problem?-(laughter)

W-Well, I g... in your day,

but look, the thing isit distorts the vote.

Voters don't getthe power they should,

and the candidatestotally ignore

everyone outsidea few swing states.

It's not a true democracy.You need to help us fix this.

Oh, well,I'd be happy to help...

-for another 99 cents.-(laughter)

Are you kidding me?You have in-app purchases?

Well, I mean, solutionsare a premium feature,

and you get to unlockmy summer outfit.

You know what, I...I don't want to see your outfit.

-I just want the solution...-(electronic ding)

Okay, well, it's simple--just amend the Constitution.

Well, actually, peoplehave tried and they've failed

more than 700 timesto amend the electoral college.

It doesn't work-- becauseyou guys made it so hard.

You need two-thirdsof the house and the senate

-and... -Three-quartersof the states, yeah,

I know what'sin the Constitution, okay?

Look, could we have given ita bit more thought?

Sure. But building a countryfrom scratch is (bleep) hard!

Have you ever tried to writesomething with a feather?

I mean, people were yelling!

We were wearing wool pants!

-(laughter) -Hamilton won'tstop rapping in the corner,

so yeah!

We botched some details! Sue me!

Oh, oh, you can't,'cause I'm a ghost.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Mr. Jefferson,I didn't mean to upset you.

Oh, well, you know, you...could make it up to me.

Oh, I'd be glad to.How do I make it up?

Well, that...that thing you did last time.

-With-with your hand. -Oh,you mean... you mean this thing?

(chuckling):Yeah. Oh, yeah. Ha-ha-ha...

Stop! Stop it! Oh, yeah!

I'm gonna (bleep) my pantaloons!Okay! Oh!

Ooh! Ooh!Make sure you rate the app!

-Make sure you rate the app!-I'm not rating anything.