The easiest way to define the Electoral College is to define it as an official body of people that represent the states of the US. This body, once elected, will formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president of the US. So, when a citizen of the US votes for a President or a Vice President, he or she is not directly voting for the President or Vice President of the US, but for presidential electors, also known as the Electoral College. Each state in the US must have a specific number of electors to vote for. In order to determine that number, every state has an assigned number of possible members of the electorate. That number is based on the total of the state’s Senate and House of Representatives delegations. Currently, the number of electors per state can go from three to fifty four.
How are Candidates for Electors Chosen?
It is established by the US Constitution that citizens of United States need to vote in each state of the USA at a general election in order to choose members of the electorate who will further represent a particular party’s candidate. Only after these general electors have been elected, people can vote for party candidates who will later become the President and Vice president of the US. Political parties are the ones who usually nominate electoral candidates each presidential election year. Apart from political parties, candidates can also be chosen by other groups. The decision is usually made at a state party convention, or by the party state committee.
During voting, citizens of US should follow the rules of the Twelfth Amendment that requires voter to cast a ballot for the President and another one for the Vice President. Although electors are expected to vote for the candidates they represent, they are not obliged to do so. Electors are chosen every four years, exactly on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, a meeting is held to cast ballots. The candidate who wins the most votes will become the President and Vice president of the United States. This system is called general ticket system or the winner-take-all system. In case no candidate receives the required majority of (electoral) votes, the President will have to be elected by the House of Representatives. The Vice President will be elected by the Senate. Currently, in order to win and become the President of US, a candidate requires 270 of 538 electoral votes. After the election, the Electoral College votes have to be certified by Congress that held in January. As soon as the Electoral College completes their obligation, they will not exist for another four years.
The Electoral College system was established in the 19th century, and it has significantly developed until today. Unfortunately, many citizens of US states still know little or nothing about the existence or duties of the Electoral College. Therefore, most US voters make a mistake if they believe that they are casting a ballot for their candidate directly.