2012 Presidential Election Map
Explaining about the Electoral College
Middle or Upper School:
The founding fathers established the Electoral College for several reasons. They wanted to give the small states a more equal value, and they wanted to insure that a candidate would have to campaign and be aware of the entire country, not just the largest states and cities.
The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of representatives and senators they have in the Congress. The number of representatives is based on population of the states, while the number of senators remains at two for each state. The District of Columbia, in which Washington is located, has one member of the House of Representatives, but currently has three electors.
In 48 of the states, all of the electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote no matter how close that vote is. This way of deciding the winner sometimes means that the person with fewer popular votes still wins the election. Maine and Nebraska, however, select two electors by popular vote in the state, and the rest by the popular vote in each of the districts that has a congressman.
Our founding fathers created the Electoral College. This group casts the votes for the president. The founders wanted to be sure that even votes in small states were important. They also wanted to make sure that the men who were elected had to think of the whole country, not just a few large areas.
So each state has as many electors as it has people in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The District of Columbia, where the capitol, Washington, is, has three electors. The total number of electors, then, is 538.
In a presidential election in most of the states, the candidate who gets the most votes gets all the electors in that state, even though the losing candidate won some votes. Maine and Nebraska, however, choose two electors by the popular vote, and the rest from the winners in each district that has a member in the House of Representatives. Because of the way most states choose, it has happened that a president is elected without having the most popular votes.