What Is the Electoral College?

Many people were surprised when Donald Trump was elected President in 2016. Why? Because more people voted for Hillary Clinton—two million more, in fact.

So how did she lose if more people voted for her? Because a Presidential candidate doesn’t win by getting the most votes in all the country. A candidate wins by getting the most Electoral votes.

Have you heard of the Electoral College? It is not a school. It is the system we use to elect the President. It was set up by the Founding Fathers. They made the first laws for our country.

Each state elects two U.S. Senators to represent it in the Senate. Each state elects a certain number of U.S. Representatives to represent it in the House of Representatives. The number of Representatives a state has depends on the number of people living in that state.

Each state gets one Electoral vote for each of its Senators. That means every state starts with two votes. Each state gets one Electoral vote for each of its Representatives. States with more people have more Representatives. This means they get more Electoral votes. States with less people have less.

Let’s look at Maryland. Maryland has two Senators and eight Representatives. That’s a total of 10 Electoral votes. First, all the voters in Maryland go to the polls to vote. Then Maryland counts all the votes. The candidate with the most votes wins Maryland’s 10 Electoral votes.

After a Presidential election, every state counts its votes. They announce which candidate won in each state. Then, they add up all the Electoral votes. The Presidential candidate with the most Electoral votes wins.