Electoral College Setup • The electoral college votes decide who will be president, not the popular vote • Each state has electoral votes equal to the number of its congressional representatives • For example, a state with two Senators and three congressmen would have five electoral votes • The District of Columbia also has three electoral votes, even though it has no voting congressional representation
535 electoral votes for each member of Congress + 3 electoral votes for the District of Columbia = 538
Election Chronology • General election in November • Meeting of electors at state capitals in December to cast votes traditionally in accordance with the outcome of the general election • Presidential inauguration in January
Election Process • Winner-take-all: The presidential candidate who wins the most votes in the state will get all of the electoral votes. • This feature largely eliminates disputes over election returns. • Electors may make their own decisions on who to vote for, but generally follow the state vote.
Shortcoming of the Electoral College System • A candidate who does not win the popular vote can still be elected president. This has happened four times in American history. Winning under these circumstances usually results in an ineffective presidency. • “Faithless” electors could alter the will of the majority. • The failure of any candidate to win a majority of the electoral votes could throw the election into the House.
Review Questions • The___vote, not the popular vote, decides a presidential race. • The total number of electoral votes is___, one for each congressional representative and three for the District of Columbia. • Under the___system, the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in a state will receive all of the electoral votes. • A successful presidential candidate who won a majority of the electoral vote, but trailed in popular votes, has happened___times in American history. • An elector must cast his or her vote according to the state vote. (True or False)