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Election Day Info: Electoral College

JACKSON, Miss. – Do you know how the Electoral College works? 

Originally, the Founding Fathers wanted a system that combined the popular vote with those elected into Congress. The solution became the Electoral College, a system we still use today.

As of 2016, there are 538 electorates across the country.

That number is determined by combining the total number of representatives a given state has in the U.S. House of Representatives with the total number of members each state has in the U.S. Senate.

From there, each state is assigned a number of electoral votes equal to its congressional delegation. For example, Mississippi has four members in the U.S. House of Representatives and, just like every other state, two U.S. Senators. Therefore, Mississippi has six electoral votes.

These electoral votes, all of them, will go to which ever candidate wins the popular vote in that state. There are two exceptions to this rule; Maine and Nebraska. They split their votes up in proportion to the percentage of the popular vote each candidate receives.

It is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and still lose the presidency. Al Gore won the popular vote back in 2000, yet George W. Bush won the election.

The magic number tonight is 270. That’s the number of electorates either candidate needs to receive in order to win the presidency.


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