ORLANDO, Fla. — The 2020 general election is on the horizon and many areas are setting records for early voter turnout.
But ultimately, it is not the voter who decides the next president of the United States, it’s the Electoral College.
Here are nine things to know about the Electoral College:
1. The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the president by a popular vote of qualified citizens, according to the National Archives.
2. When voters cast their ballot for president in the popular vote, they elect a slate of electors. The electors then cast votes that will decide who becomes the president. Usually, the electoral votes align with the popular vote in an election.
3. Each state gets the same amount of electors as it has members of Congress, including Washington, D.C.'s three electors. There are currently 538 electors.
4. In 48 states and Washington, D.C., the winner gets all the electoral votes for that state. Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that assign their electors using a proportional system.
5. To win the election, a candidate needs the vote of at least 270 electors.
6. In most cases, a projected winner is announced on election night in November. But the actual Electoral College vote takes place in mid-December when the electors meet in their states.
7. The Constitution doesn’t require electors to follow their state’s popular vote, but many states' laws do. It is rare, but electors have challenged those laws and voted for someone else.
8. It is possible for a candidate to win the Electoral College but lose the popular vote. This happened in 2016, 2000 and three times in the 1800s.
9. If no candidate receives the majority of electoral votes, the vote will go to the House of Representatives. House members will choose the president from the top three candidates. The Senate elects the vice president from the remaining top two candidates.
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