What’s the Deal with the Electoral College?

What’s the Deal with the Electoral College?

11.03.20
Congressional Pages carry the chests containing the Electoral College votes from the States and territories for President of the United States on January 6, 2017. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
11.03.20

While the popular vote, otherwise known as an individual’s vote, elects members of Congress, mayors, governors and other state legislators and local officials, the Electoral College ultimately decides the leader of the country. 

You’ve heard of the Electoral College, but what exactly does it do and how does it work? 

When voters cast their ballots, they’re actually voting for a slate of electors (aka – the Electoral College) appointed by their state’s political parties to support that party’s candidate. Each state is allotted a specific number of electoral votes. In almost all states (except for a few exceptions like Maine and Nebraska) whichever candidate wins the state, all electoral votes for that state goes to that candidate.

The process explains how a candidate can lose the popular vote but win the election, which is what happened in 2016 when Hilary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump garnered 306 electoral votes, surpassing the 270 required to win (out of the 538 up for grabs).

So while you’re watching the polling numbers, pay attention to those electoral votes which will decide the fate of the next four years.