How the Electoral College decides the presidential election

Posted at 12:32 AM, Oct 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-24 00:32:20-04

We are now two weeks away from the presidential election.

As you may recall from social studies class, the people do not directly elect the next president, the Electoral College does.

This process is written into the Constitution.

Established by America's founding fathers, it's a process not a place.

It’s described as a compromise somewhere between a vote in Congress and a popular vote of the people.

Each state has a number of electors based on how many members it has in congress.

So a state with a lot of people, like California, has 55 electoral votes.

A small state, like Delaware, has just three.

States award their electoral votes on the basis of the popular vote.

In most states, it's winner take all.

It takes a majority 270 of the 538 total electoral votes to win the presidency.

After the November election, members of the Electoral College meet to cast their ballots.

The results are sent on to Congress which tallies the vote and then makes it official.

By the way, the candidate who wins the popular vote doesn't always win the election.

In the year 2000, more Americans voted for Vice President Al Gore, but George W. Bush had more electoral votes, so he prevailed and won the presidency.