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Informed Citizens

are Better Citizens

by Jodi L. Miller

Election rules and procedures in the United States can be complicated. That is especially true in presidential election years because we don’t have one presidential election, we essentially have 50 separate ones.

In the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1 sets up the Electoral College, which is a body of electors that gathers every four years to select the president and vice president of the United States based on the electoral votes of the individual states. Each political party at the state level nominates electors. There is a slate of Republican electors and a slate of electors for the Democrats in every state.

So, how many electors does each state have? Under the U.S. Constitution each state’s electoral total matches its congressional delegation sum. For example, New Jersey has 12 representatives in the House of Representatives and two senators, so it gets 14 electors or electoral votes. A majority of electoral votes—270—is needed to win the presidency.

Most states award their electoral votes in a winner-takes-all system where the popular vote winner in each state gets all the state’s electoral votes. Only two states—Maine and Nebraska—allocate their electoral votes proportionally, meaning a portion of the electors could potentially go to any of the candidates. The U.S. Constitution does not specifically stipulate that states need to have a winner-takes-all or a split-vote system for deciding who wins electoral votes. That is left for each state to decide. READ MORE

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