The Electoral College


During the election, many voters wonder what their vote counts for or how much of an impact it really makes. Some wonder where the Electoral College comes into play and what it means in regards to changing the election. Whether or not the Electoral College undermines the popular vote has been a question for many voters. C Mag has parsed all the information and simplified it for you ­­­­­— read on to find out!

what is it?

The Electoral College is the process by which the popular vote of the people determines which candidate will be represented by the states’ electoral votes. Electors in the college vote for the candidate who won the majority of votes in the popular election in that state. So, when you cast your ballot, you are not directly voting for that candidate. You are signaling to the electors which candidate should be elected. For a candidate to be elected president, they must receive 270 of 538 electoral votes.

the popular vote

The results of the popular vote do not directly influence which presidential candidate gets elected. When civilians cast their vote on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, they vote for a president and a vice president. The popular vote determines which candidate will receive a state’s allotted electoral votes based on which candidate receives the majority votes.

the majority rule

Whether a candidate wins by a large or a small majority, any majority win of the popular vote qualifies a candidate to receive all of the electoral votes in a state.

distribution of votes

Every state is allotted a certain number of electoral votes. The number of electoral votes that each state receives is equal to its number of members in Congress. For example, Montana is worth three electoral votes in the 2016 election: two votes for its two senators and one vote for its one House of Representatives member.  California is worth 55 electoral votes in the 2016 election: two electoral votes for its two senators and 53 electoral votes for its 53 House of Representatives members.

the election

The selected electors meet in each of their respective states on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of the December following election to cast their votes for the majority selected candidate in their states. Whichever candidate reaches or surpasses the 270 electoral vote majority is declared the winner of the election.

≥270 to win

The Controversy

Speculation Over The Electoral College

The Electoral College can benefit the people in a state who voted for the majority vote because the electors will vote in their favor. However, the electoral college demeans the popular votes and does not allow for the people who voted to have direct influence over the election. This occurs because the electors, who are supposed to vote for the candidate who won the majority in the state, still have the freedom to vote however they please.

How it affects Third Party Candidates

Third-party candidates have the ability to play the spoiler role in elections and have pulled enough votes away from major candidates in swing states to alter the outcome of the general election in past elections. However, the Electoral College essentially nullifies third-party candidates as legitimate choices for president, as many of the candidates who receive a significant percent of the popular vote seldom win electoral votes.

BY the numbers…

71 percent of democrats surveyed in 2012 are in favor of a direct popular vote as opposed to the electoral college


53 percent of republicans surveyed are in favor of a direct popular vote as opposed to the electoral college

source:, 2012