Jackie Gingrich Cushman

In 2000, Republican nominee George W. Bush won the Electoral College, while Democratic nominee Al Gore won the popular vote nationwide. (If only he had won his home state of Tennessee, Gore would have won the Electoral College.)

This had happened twice before (Electoral College majority, loss in popular vote).

Rutherford B. Hayes won the Electoral College in 1876, while Samuel Tilden won the popular vote. Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College in 1888 against incumbent President Grover Cleveland, who won the popular vote. Four years later, voters returned Cleveland to the White House, making him the only president to serve nonconsecutive terms.

If there is no majority in the Electoral College (no one gets to 270), then the presidential election is decided by the House of Representatives. This has happened once before in our nation's history, when John Quincy Adams was elected on Feb. 9, 1825.

Andrew Jackson had won a plurality of both the popular vote and the Electoral College, but not the majority of the Electoral College. This meant the House of Representatives would elect the president from the top three candidates. Speaker of the House Henry Clay was no a fan of Jackson and threw his support behind Adams on the first ballot.

While our system might not be perfect, it does allow for citizens to participate in the election of our public officials. To me, it is always exciting to watch the participatory process. Instead of using guns and bombs, we are able to influence our future by voting.

While the outcome is important, so is the process. The process of active citizen participation is the foundation of our country. It is a reminder that we are a nation where the government is of the people, by the people, for the people. Go vote -- and take a friend with you.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.