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The Electoral College

Page history last edited by normajean4184@... 14 years, 6 months ago

The Electoral College is the process that we use to elect the President and Vice President of the United States. For most people the college is not very well understood and is only of importance during the year prior to the electing of our President. Here is a description of how the college works and resource to use to better understand the process.


Each state and the District of Columbia are given a certain number of electoral votes based on the population of the state plus 2 for each senator. The population count comes from the census that is taken every 10 years (link to US census maps under resources). That means that every 10 years the number of electors for each state may change based on the the results of the census.  The total number of electors is set at 538. These numbers should sound familar because the census is also used to determine the number of seats a state has in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives is 435 and there are 100 Senators. That totals 535 members of Congress. The additional 3 electors comes from the number of electors that the District of Columbia receives. The territories of the United States are not included in the electoral college.


As written in the Twelfth Ammendment of the Constitution, a canidate must receive a majority of the electoral votes in order to be elected to the Presidency. A majority is one more than half, so half of 538 is 269 and one more makes 270. The "magic" number to win the Presidency is 270.


An elector is a person who is elected within the state to vote based on the majority vote of the citizens. This person may be someone who holds an elected office but most of the time the person is selected for the position because of their past service in politics. The elector may vote however they wish but the reason that they are selected is because they will cast their vote based on the majority vote of the state.


When a canidate wins the majority vote in a state they receive all of the electoral votes from that state. The exception to this are the states of Maine and Nebraska who issue their electoral votes based on the percentage the canidates receive in the state.





Number of electors per state for the 2008 Presidential Election




Interactive map and graph on the Electoral College http://www.270towin.com/

What is the Electoral College? http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html

2000 US Census Maps http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/atlas/pdf/censr01-103.pdf

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