What Is An Electoral Vote? Here's Why It's The Most Important Part Of The 2016 Presidential Election

Ladies and gentlemen, it's almost time. Nov. 8 is Election Day. Since our candidates have gotten a bunch of media attention, those new to voting probably know who they want to vote for, but not what the process is like. For example, what is an electoral vote, and why is it important? What does the Electoral College have to do with the election, and how does it determine who wins and who loses?

Luckily, there's still a lot of time to brush up on the Election Day basics. To explain the electoral vote, you need to know a bit about the Electoral College. Sure, it sounds like a party school, but it's not an actual location — in fact, it's truly just a compromise.

The Electoral College was established way back when, in the drafting of the Constitution. The founding fathers put it in place, figuring it would be pretty fair. Not only does it give Congress an opportunity to choose a candidate, but obviously it also takes the opinion of the American people into account. Long story short, each state has a certain amount of electors, and a candidate needs to win 270 of their votes (out of 538) to be win the title of president.


It's definitely a process to be named an elector. Well before a big election, political parties in each state choose from a pool of candidates. From there, voters vote for electors while voting for bigger government positions. (Since there's so much excitement over the two leading candidates, these votes aren't truly discussed. Sometimes their names appear under the name of the Democratic or Republican candidate, but not always. No matter what, they're definitely still important.)


In fact, you're voting more for the electors than you are for the actual candidate. But truly, it's something of a package deal. The electors vow to support the candidate whom the majority of voters in their states support, and it's the amount of electoral votes received that determines who the next president will be.

As mentioned before, each state has a set amount of electoral votes, and that typically depends on the size of the state. For example, California has an impressive 55, while New Hampshire has four. Pennsylvania, typically known for being a popular swing state, has 20 — and those 20 can truly make a huge difference.


In the slim chance that neither candidate gains a majority, the results are then decided by the House of Representatives — while they'd be responsible for selecting a president, the Senate would find someone to fill the vice presidential role. It's extremely unlikely, but at least we have something to fall back on just in case.

That said, even if you live in a smaller state, believe that your vote definitely makes a difference. Even though some people aren't incredibly fond of the Electoral College these days, it's been in place for a while and has, for the most part, served us well.

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