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Facts about the United States Electoral College For Kids


The United States Electoral College is the institution that officially elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. Electors are apportioned to each state and the District of Columbia (also known as Washington, D.C.), but not to territorial possessions of the United States.

  • The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled, while the Twenty-third Amendmentgrants the District of Columbia the same number of electors as the least populous state, currently three.
  • In total, there are 538 electors, corresponding to the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 100 senators, and the three additional electors from the District of Columbia.
  • Maine and Nebraska use the “congressional district method”, selecting one elector within each congressional district by popular vote and selecting the remaining two electors by a statewide popular vote.
  • The Electoral College gives a numeric advantage in the election of the president to the smaller states, as the minimum number of electors for the small states is three compared to one for the election of representatives.
  • The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.
  • In 1796, Federalist Party candidate John Adams won the presidential election; by finishing in second place, Democratic-Republican Party candidate Thomas Jefferson, the Federalists’ opponent, became the Vice President.
  • Representative Emanuel Celler (D – New York), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded to public concerns over the disparity between the popular vote and electoral vote by introducing House Joint Resolution 681, a proposed Constitutional amendment which would have replaced the Electoral College with simpler plurality system based on the national popular vote.
  • Although ballots list the names of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, voters actually choose electors when they vote for President and Vice President.
  • Selection[edit] Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution requires each state legislature to determine how electors for the state are to be chosen, but it disqualifies any person holding a federal office, either elected or appointed, from being an elector.
  • Forty eight states and Washington, D.C., employ the “winner-takes-all method”, each awarding its electors as a single bloc.
  • After the election each state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment, each listing the candidates for President and Vice President, their pledged electors, and the total votes each candidacy received.
  • A majority of the states selected presidential electors by legislation in both 1792 (9 of 15) and 1800 (10 of 16), and half of the states did so in 1812.