Why Is It Called The Electoral College?

Voters are counting on the electoral college determine a major decision on Nov. 8, but what is the electoral college? The answer isn't as complex as it may seem.

The most important thing to know is that the electoral college refers to a group of people and a process, not a physical place (or an actual college). When you cast your vote, you're actually choosing your state's presidential electors. As per the New York Times, electors come together to collectively make up the electoral college — the formal body that elects the President and Vice President of the United States, as stated in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. The Catholic Church, for example, uses a similar model: The College of Cardinals is responsible for electing the pope.

The process isn't exactly how the founding fathers imagined it, but then again, the Constitution provided a simple framework for what the electors should do, instead of a step-by-step guide. According to the National Archives & Records Administration, there are 538 electors total, and it takes a majority of 270 to win the presidency.

But where do the electors come from, and who are they? There is an elector for each member of each states' House of Representatives, plus each state's two senators. Each state has a different system for how electors are selected and what their roles are. Some states require their electors votes to mirror the state's popular vote, and some don't. In other words, there's a reason why people get confused about the electoral college and its role in the election — the short answer is, it depends.

Seriously, this stuff is complicated.

Regardless of how it works (or doesn't), there's a simple explanation for why it's called the electoral college — and on Nov. 8, may their odds be ever in your favor.