"Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people." - Federalist Papers #10
Total Electoral Votes: 538 Majority Needed to Elect: 270
Alabama - 9 votes Kentucky - 8 votes
North Dakota - 3 votes Alaska - 3 votes
Louisiana - 8 votes Ohio - 18 votes
Arizona - 11 votes Maine - 4 votes
Oklahoma - 7 votes Arkansas - 6 votes
Maryland - 10 votes Oregon - 7 votes
California - 55 votes Massachusetts - 11 votes
Pennsylvania - 20 votes Colorado - 9 votes
Michigan - 16 votes Rhode Island - 4 votes
Connecticut - 7 votes Minnesota - 10 votes
South Carolina - 9 votes Delaware - 3 votes
Mississippi - 6 votes South Dakota - 3 votes
District of Columbia - 3 votes
Missouri - 10 votes Tennessee - 11 votes
Florida - 29 votes Montana - 3 votes
Texas - 38 votes Georgia - 16 votes
Nebraska - 5 votes Utah - 6 votes
Hawaii - 4 votes Nevada - 6 votes
Vermont - 3 votes Idaho - 4 votes
New Hampshire - 4 votes Virginia - 13 votes
Illinois - 20 votes New Jersey - 14 votes
Washington - 12 votes Indiana - 11 votes
New Mexico - 5 votes West Virginia - 5 votes
Iowa - 6 votes New York - 29 votes
Wisconsin - 10 votes Kansas - 6 votes
North Carolina - 15 votes Wyoming - 3 votes
Although the Presidential election isn't run and calculated in the same way as the standard "winner takes all" popular vote method found with Congressional seats, the electoral votes in 48 out of the 50 states (including District of Columbia) are based on the popular vote.
For example, all 55 of California’s electoral votes go to the winner of the state election, even if the margin of victory is only 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent. Source: Frequently Asked Questions | National Archives.
When people cast their vote [for President & Vice-President], they are actually voting for a group of people called electors.
Currently all States use the popular vote results from the November general election to decide which political party chooses the individuals who are appointed
The number of electors each state gets is equal to its total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress.
A total of 538 electors form the Electoral College.
Each elector casts one vote following the general election.
The candidate who gets 270 votes or more wins.
The newly elected President and Vice President are then inaugurated on January 20th.
*Editor's Note: To be clear -
The Electoral process provides for each State - especially a smaller populated State, to not be overridden by a State with a larger population, which a National
"popular" vote would cause.
The union of the States under the
U.S. Constitution provides for each State to organize and vote for the President.
The Electoral process gives a voice to each State as to who becomes the Leader of the united States federal government.
The popular vote in each State decides who wins the electoral votes for that State.
Every citizen's vote counts.
Electoral votes are allocated among the States based on the Census.
Every State is allocated a number of votes equal to the number of senators and representatives in its U.S. Congressional delegation—two votes for its senators in the U.S. Senate plus a number of votes equal to the number of its Congressional districts.
Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated three electors and treated like a State for purposes of the Electoral College.
Each State (which includes the District of Columbia for this discussion) decides how to appoint its electors.
All States, except for Maine and Nebraska have a winner-take-all policy where the State looks only at the overall winner of the state-wide popular vote.
Maine and Nebraska, however, appoint individual electors based on the winner of the popular vote for each Congressional district and then 2 electors based on the winner of the overall state-wide popular vote.
the Electoral College system does not provide for residents of U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands) to vote for President.
Unless citizens in U.S. Territories have official residency (domicile) in a U.S. State or the District of Columbia (and vote by absentee ballot or travel to their State to vote), they cannot vote in the presidential election.
Note: that prior to the adoption of the
23rd Amendment* DC residents could not vote in the Presidential election.
The political parties may authorize voters in primary elections in Territories to select delegates to represent them at the political party conventions. However, selecting delegates and voting at a national convention is unrelated to the Electoral College process.
*Please see 23rd Amendment, along with 12th, 20th and original Constitutional language pertaining to Presidential election below.
Because the President represents all the states, each state appoints Electors to cast votes -Traditionally, votes reflect the majority vote by state's citizens. The number of Electors is based on state population.
(July 1804 Burr had enough of Hamilton's slights against him & challenged him to a duel, where Burr shot & killed Hamilton).
1. Each State shall appoint electors of President & Vice President in such a manner as the legislature thereof may direct.
2. The number of electors shall equal the number of senator and representative to which the State may be entitled in Congress.
3. They shall meet in their respective States; They shall vote by ballot for President and Vice-President of the United States, at least one of whom shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves.
4. They shall name in their ballots, the person voted for as President; and the person voted for as Vice-President.
5. The electors shall sign and certify the lists.
6. They shall transmit the lists sealed to the seat of government of the United States.
7. The lists shall be directed to the President of the Senate.
At the Convention that formed the Constitution, the original scheme for electing the President was by the two houses of [Federal] Congress . . . this plan was adopted by eight States for, two against. Afterwards it was voted by six States against three . . .
It was then decided, by eight States to two, that the electors should be appointed by the legislature of several States.
The election of the electors of President and Vice-President in now codified to the people of the several States (Analysis of Government, 1869).
12th (XII) AMENDMENT Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804. The 12th Amendment made changes to how the President and Vice President are elected. Rather than a 1st place - President and 2nd place Vice President, those two positions are voted on separately by the electors.
Today, each major political Party puts forth on one "ticket" a Presidential candidate and a Vice Presidential candidate.
The complete language of Amendments 12, 20 and 23, are found below in this section for your review.
The object of appointing electors was, by the authors of the Constitution, to give opportunity for deliberation, and for cautiously analyzing the characters of candidates for these high trusts; but this object has been wholly defeated by the practices of the political parties arrayed against each other.
Hence the meeting of the electors, as before stated, is mere matter of form. Nothing is left to the electors, as before stated but to cast their votes according to previous pledges; and any exercise of an independent judgement would be treated as political usurpation, dishonorable to the individual, and a fraud on his constituents (Analysis of Government, 1869).
When deciding to create a union of States, most States feared losing their powers to a centralized government or another state. The Electoral process provides for each State - especially a less populated State, to have their voice in who becomes the Leader of the
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves.
And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.
The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.
The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like manner chuse the President.
But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice.
In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
(See Amendments below which changed and added to the election process)
"Out of many, one"
Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President,
and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;
-- the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;
-- The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President,
if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.
But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.
And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.
* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.
But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment. (see below)
Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified;
and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State;
they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
. . . The mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents . . .
A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations . . .
. . . The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes . . .
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.
How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. . .
They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment.
(Original Presidential Seal - above "Out of Many, One")
And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No Senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit from the United States, can be of the number of electors.
Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias . . .
And, as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place . . .
(Originally published in New York newspapers between