What is the Electoral College?
With the U.S. Presidential Election recently completed, and thankfully without significant controversy, it is interesting to examine the role of the Electoral College.
Americans elect the President and Vice-president through a method of indirect popular election.
On November 4, voters cast their ballots for the presidential candidate of their choice. However, votes actually count towards a group of electors who pledge to vote for a specific candidate when theElectoral College meets in December.
The Electoral College is the unofficial term coined in the 1800s for the group of citizens selected by the people to cast votes for President and Vice President.
The presidential/vice-presidential pair who wins the popular vote in any given state receives all* of that state’s Electoral College votes.
In the end, the winner of the race is the candidate who receives a majority (270) of the 538 Electoral College votes.
A special joint session of Congress will convene in January 2009 at which the President of the Senate reads the Certificates of Votes and declares the official winner.
* Exceptions: Maine and Nebraska, where a proportional method for allocating votes is used giving the statewide winner two electoral votes and awarding one vote to the winner of each congressional district