The electoral college, what is it, and why does it matter? Let’s break it down. The Electoral College comes from the United States Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2 &3. It states that each state will appoint several electors relating to the number of senators and representatives. The electors are chosen in a two-part process. First, the political parties of each state determine potential electors. Electors cannot be state senators or representatives or hold an Office of Trust or Profit. They can also not have given aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States (this comes from the post-Civil War era). Usually, these are people who have shown loyalty to a said political party. The next step happens during the general election. When a voter votes for their Presidential candidate, they are also voting for their State’s elector. The winning Presidential candidate’s group of electors are appointed the State’s electors- except in Nebraska and Maine.  Electoral College voters can vote differently than the popular vote in their state, but this doesn’t happen often. Electoral College electors are also able to vote like any other citizen during the election because they are not acting in their role yet.

How many electors are there? The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors. That number comes from adding up all the seats in the House of Representatives + the Senate + 3 electors for the District of Columbia. Now, how many electors does each state get? Well, that is decided based on the population. After the US census, states can receive more electors if their population has gone up enough or lose electors if their population has gone down. Speaking of the Census, make sure you are counted this year! On election night, the winning presidential candidate must receive 270 electoral votes. This is why certain states such as California, Texas, and Florida receive so much attention during the election year. California has 55 electoral votes while Kansas has 6. You may have heard of the term “Swing State”; this means a state that may vote for either party. Michigan and Ohio are viewed as swing states. While “Safe States” generally states that vote the same way year after year. Kansas is a Republican safe state.

There are arguments for and against the Electoral College. Some disagree with it because a presidential candidate can win the popular vote (the votes that come from the citizens) but not win the Electoral College vote; this happened in the 2000 and 2016 elections. While others argue that the Electoral College makes small state’s voices heard. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the Electoral College, this is the process that will be used during the 2020 Presidential Election.

To be counted in the 2020 US Census click here

For more on the Electoral College check out these resources.