About Our People Legal Stuff Careers
Pages lead a Senate procession carrying two boxes holding Electoral College votes through Statuary Hall to the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, for the counting of the votes in the presidential election. A tally of the U.S. Electoral College vote affirmed President Barack Obama's re-election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Electoral College is about to pick the president. Here's what you need to know.


The Electoral College is about to pick the president. Here's what you need to know.

WATCH | Election day has come and gone, but technically, Donald Trump hasn't won yet. The 538 members of the electoral college will gather in state capitols on Monday to elect the next president, and if you're thinking they will change course and block Trump's win, you're likely going to be disappointed.

What is the Electoral College?

The Electoral College is a body of people, selected by state political parties, who vote to elect the president on behalf of the general population. The founding father established the Electoral College as a compromise between those who wanted the president to be elected by popular vote, and those who wanted Congress to select the president.

There 538 electors represent the sum of the 435 U.S. representatives, 100 senators plus three electors for the District of Columbia.

Who gets to be an elector?

Electors are selected by state political parties. They are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people who are closely affiliated with the presidential candidates. The parties will typically nominate their electors at a party convention or some other political meeting before the election. 

How does it work?

Each party nominates electors. So in Virginia, which has 13 electoral votes, each political party will nominate 13 electors. Then the winning party's electors get to go on to vote for their candidate  in the Electoral College. So, because Hillary Clinton won the  majority vote in Virginia, all 13 Democratic electors will get to vote for her in the Electoral College. 

The same is true for Republican electors in states where Trump won the majority of the vote. 


Here's how the electoral map played out on Nov. 8. Not every state has a winner-take-all electoral policy. In Nebraska and Maine, electoral votes are divvied up in proportion with the popular vote.

Do electors have to vote for their candidate?

There are no federal laws that require electors to vote for their party's candidate, but most states require electors to pledge to vote for the candidates. 

In 29 states and the District of Columbia electors who break their pledge can face fines and penalties.

Electors who don't vote for the candidate they are pledged to vote for are called "faithless electors." 

The 'Hamilton Electors'

Now a small group of Democratic electors are trying to convince Republican electors to not vote for Trump.  They call themselves the "Hamilton Electors" after Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who helped establish the Electoral College... and the one who inspired the hit broadway musical. 

Trump won 306 Electoral College votes, so 37 Republican electors would have to vote for someone else, or abstain from voting, to block Trump's win. 

A group of celebrities released this PSA urging electors to rethink their vote. 

Trump will still win

There's pretty much no way Hillary Clinton will win in the Electoral College. It's unlikely the 37 Republican electors that put Trump over the edge will vote for a Democrat. 

Even if those 37 electors decide to vote for someone else so that Trump no longer has the majority needed to win, the decision would just get passed on to the House of Representatives, who would elect one of the top three presidential candidates. Don't forget, the House is currently controlled by Republicans.

Republican electors say they are backing Trump 

There is little appetite among electors to rock the boat on Monday. More than 330 electors from both sides told the Associated Press they plan to vote for their pledged candidates. 

State party officials for 10 of the 30 states Trump won in November told The Hill they expect nearly every one of their electors to vote for Trump. 

Read Comments
Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest Linked In List Menu Enlarge Gallery Info Menu Close Angle Down Angle Up Angle Left Angle Right Grid Grid Play Align Left Search Youtube Mail Mail Angle Down Bookmark