Elections 2020

United States Electoral College System

The President and the Vice-President of the United States is chosen by the Electoral Collge which convenes every four years for the sole purpose of electing the President and the Vice-President. There are 538 electors in all in the Electoral College. Each elector has one vote for the president and an absolute majority of electoral college votes is needed for the candidate to the win the presidency. How many electoral college votes does a presidential candidate need to earn in order to become president?

Some Rules:

Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older can vote in the presidential election. When you vote, you vote for your states’ Electoral College electors.

The number of electors for each state is the total number of its Senators and House of Representatives in Congress. California has a total of 55 electors.

Electoral College votes for each state. Source: Ali Zifan – UCSB.

Except for two states, Maine and Nebraska, the winner of the statewide votes wins all of the electors allotted to that state. Electors typically are pledged to vote for their state’s winning candidate though they are not legally required to do so.

If no single candidate receives an absolute majority from the Electoral College, the House of Representatives then select the President where each state receives a single vote.

Questions to Ponder

(1) Can a candidate wins the most votes nationwide and not win the Electoral College? Yes, in fact, this happened in the Presidential Election of 2000 and 2016.

(2) The Electoral College gives states like Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota with population less than 800,00 with three electoral college votes each, while a populous state like California with nearly 40 million people has only 55 votes. Is that fair? Is the vote of a Californian voter worth the same as that of a North Dakotan voter? Can you guess why the framers of the U.S. Constitution chose to distribute the electoral college votes by Congressional representation?