The Electoral Process
An election is the process by which citizens select men and women they want to run their government. Citizens usually group together based on their beliefs on specific issues such as immigration, education, and healthcare. These groups are known as political parties. Although the Democrats and Republicans remain the largest political parties, others exist such as the Independent Party, Reform Party, Green Party, Socialist Party, Populist Party, and much more.
When citizens vote for a mayor, senator, or judge they are voting directly for that person. This is not the case when voting for presidency. Instead, citizens are voting for an elector who has pledged to elect the presidential candidate. Such electors are chosen by each state and are called the Electoral College. This body of people is responsible for directly electing the President and Vice President. Each state has as many votes in the Electoral College as it has senators and members of the House of Representatives. A large state, like California, has a larger amount of votes in the Electoral College compared to a less populated state like Alaska.
Although the American public has an accurate projection for the presidential election within a few hours after the polls close, it only becomes official when the Electoral College meets in December and seals in its votes. Candidates must receive a majority of the 538 electoral votes (at least 270) in order to become President or Vice-President.
Typically, the general public’s vote and the Electoral College’s vote match. But there have been four cases in which the person who became U.S. President did so not by popular vote, but by the vote of the Electoral College (Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, John Quincy Adams, and George W. Bush).
Read more about the Electoral Process here: