"The Twelfth Amendment (1804) revised the presidential and vice presidential election rules such that members of the electoral college, called electors, vote for one person as president and for another as vice president. Prior to the passage of this amendment, the electors simply voted for two men - the one receiving more votes became president and the other became vice president." -The Handy History Answer Book
noun: electoral college; plural noun: electoral colleges; noun: Electoral College; plural noun: Electoral Colleges
- (in the US) a body of people representing the states of the US, who formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president.
- a body of electors chosen or appointed by a larger group.
To put it very simply - (so simple in fact that this quote comes from a site geared towards explaining the process to children):
"Did you know that voters in the United States don't vote for the president? People actually vote for a group of electors when they go to the polls on Election Day. These electors have pledged to support a party's nominee for president. In many states the ballot lists only the names of the nominees and not the names of the electors, so many people believe they are voting for the president." - source
The Electoral College selects our president. It does not matter if one person receives more votes than the other nationwide. The candidate who carries the proper number of states and garners the most electoral votes from those states is declared the president.
The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.
That's about as far as you can go in a minute or so with your morning coffee. But if you have more time (and more hot coffee ready) check out this easy to understand explanation here - Archives.Gov.
A comment I hear or read often is residents of various states making the comment; "They never campaign in my state anyway" or "My state doesn't matter" and questioning why some states are more important to campaign in than others.
While reading various internet posts, comments and news articles on this subject, I came across this - and copied it down to my personal files although I didn't note at the time where it came from because I wasn't planning on talking about the electoral college on my blog - I was just reading for my own interest.
"Under our Electoral College System, a Democrat is favored to capture the brass ring of American politics. The demographic changes of the country and concurrent tilt of the 12 swing states make it a narrow needle for a Republican to win. Only those 12 states matter in the general election. The remaining 38 states have such a predictable propensity for voting for one party’s candidate that they are taken for granted or ignored. Therefore, during the fall, the nominee of each party will only campaign and spend advertising dollars in the 12 battleground states."