What is the Electoral College?
The Electoral College, administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is not a place, it is a process that began as part of the original design of the U.S. Constitution. The Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between election of the president by Congress and election by popular vote. The people of the United States vote for the electors who then vote for the President. Read more about how the terms “Elector” and “Electoral College” came into usage.
How Many Votes do States Get?
Each State is allocated a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives. The number of electors for a State is based on the number of members in the House of Representatives who represent the State, plus two for the State’s Senators. A State’s Congressional delegation is determined by the State’s population.
The number of people in each State is determined by the Federal census, which is taken every ten years and includes a count of every State’s population.
270. In the early days of the United States, this number periodically increase as the number of states and population grew (e.g. George Washington won his first election in 1789 with a unanimous 69 electoral votes). The number of electoral college members is set by the number of US House Representatives (set at 435 seats since 1911), the number of US Senators (2 per state = 100), plus 3 votes for Washington DC. The total size of the electoral college is thus 538. To achieve victory in the presidential election, a candidate must win half of the electoral college (269) plus one vote, else the election is decided by the incoming House of Representatives. In this case, each state is allotted one vote, and the House must then choose the president among the top three candidates recipients of electoral votes
Who Selects the Electors?
The process for selecting electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee in each State.
Electors are often selected to recognize their service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate.
Then the voters in each State choose the electors on the day of the general election. The electors’ names may or may not appear on the ballot below the name of the candidates running for President, depending on the procedure in each State.