Monday 18 June 2018
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What Is The Electoral College?

Electoral CollegeThe Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Framers  established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. It also reflects the compromise between the "big" and "small" states with regard to representation in the Congress, that is to say, equal representation in the Senate and proportional representation in the House of Representatives. The Electoral College injects a protection against and reflects a concern expressed in Federalist 10 regarding the danger of factions and their potential impact on a Presidential election.

The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors in each state by the General Election, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.

The Electoral College currently consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Each state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the state's Senators.

Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “state” also refers to the District of Columbia.

Each candidate running for President in each state has their own group of electors. The electors are generally chosen by the candidate’s political party, but state laws vary on how the electors are selected and what are their responsibilities.

The presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Voters help choose their state’s electors when they vote for President because when one votes for a candidate one actually votes for a candidate’s electors.

Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation.”

After the presidential election, each governor prepares a Certificate of Ascertainment listing all of the candidates who ran for President in each state along with the names of their respective electors. The Certificate of Ascertainment also declares the winning presidential candidate in each state and shows which electors will represent the state at the meeting of the electors in December of the election year. Each state's Certificates of Ascertainment is sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election.

The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Each state’s electors’ votes are recorded on a Certificate of Vote, which is prepared at the meeting by the electors. Each state’s Certificates of Votes are sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election.

Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. Members of the House and Senate meet in the House chamber to conduct the official tally of electoral votes.

The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.