After what seems like years and years of presidential campaigning, Tuesday, Nov. 7, is the day Americans voters will elect a new President to begin a new century of democratic government.

With Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush having nearly identical popularity numbers in recent voter polls, is it possible for the candidate with the most popular votes to not win the presidency? Yes.

While it is important for every American to vote; in the final count, the candidate elected President must receive at least 270 electoral votes. This is a throwback to the early horse and buggy history of the United States and elections, and perhaps one that should see its sunset.

The total electoral vote is based on the number of senators and representatives in the Congress and three votes for the District of Columbia. There are a total of 538 electoral votes--established by law. An individual state's electoral votes is based on its two senators and then the number of representatives it sends to Washington. For instance, Kansas has six electoral votes--two senators and four representatives. California has the most electoral votes, 54--two senators and 52 representatives. The minimum electoral votes a state may have is three--two senators and one representative, such as Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. That may be the reason that states with few electoral votes aren't visited, or as often, by the presidential candidates.

Also, when a state's total popular votes are counted, the winning presidential candidate receives all of the state's electoral votes. Even coming in a close second is a zero.

So, with a number of the large electoral states in each candidates bag, so to speak, a few states could swing this presidential election. Those states with three to seven or eight electoral votes are becoming more important in this race for the White House.

This is one time when High Plains voters can make a difference in a presidential election. Be sure to vote, because this presidential election will not be determined by 8 p.m. in the Eastern time zone. And it may be one for the history books.--gh.

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