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Why Was the Electoral College Created?

Under the Electoral College system, the winner of the presidential election is determined by securing a majority of “electoral votes” allotted to the 50 states and the District of Columbia in proportion to their population. The 12th Amendment provides for separate electoral votes for President and Vice President—the system, as it exists today, was passed by Congress December 9, 1803, and ratified June 15, 1804.

The Electoral College’s electors will meet on Dec. 14 to vote for president. The winner must receive at least 270 of the 538 total Electoral College votes. Each state’s electoral votes typically go to the winner of the state’s popular vote. Some states allow electors to vote for anyone they choose, but more than half of the states bind electors to cast their votes for the winner.

Controversy over the Electoral College has only grown as two of the last five US presidential elections have resulted in outcomes where the candidate receiving the most votes across the country did not capture the presidency.


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