The unified States offers a system referred to as the electoral college to selected presidents. Under this method, the candidate v the most votes nationwide no necessarily success the election, which was the case in 2016 v Hillary Clinton and also Donald Trump and in 2000 v George W. Bush and Al Gore. (lt likewise happened three times in the 19th century.)

Each state is given a variety of electors based on the dimension of its conference delegation. The candidate that wins a bulk of electors becomes president.

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1. Number of electors for each state determined

Each state is allotted one elector because that each U.S. Representative and senator it has. Washington, D.C. Doesn’t have actually representation in Congress, however it receives 3 electors, the exact same number together the the very least populous state.

# of representatives + 2 senators every state = complete electoral seat

The variety of congressional seats every state gets is figured out by the decennial census. The 2020 Census is happening ideal now, which means some says will have a different number of electoral votes because that the next presidential choice in 2024.

2. Electors are nominated

In many states, electors space nominated at party conventions and also their surname are provided to the state’s election official.

3. Voters pick electors on election Day

Electors’ names carry out not usually show up on the ballot, however when american in every state poll for their an option of president, they room technically spreading their ballot because that the slate that electors representing the ticket.

4. Electoral votes are tallied for states/districts

Most says are winner-take-all for presidential elections. Whichever party’s slate that electors receives the most votes gets every one of the electoral votes. There are two exceptions: Maine and also Nebraska both provide two at-large delegates to whoever wins the state overall, and also then one to the winner of every individual conference district.

5. Majority of electoral votes identify the winner

A candidate needs to success a bulk of 538 electoral votes — 270 — to be chosen president.

If no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes, the Senate chooses the angry president and the house chooses the president. But the home decision doesn’t occupational like normal: every state’s delegation it s okay to cast a single vote, meaning that huge states have the very same weight as little states, comparable to the Senate.

6. Electors ceremonially actors ballots for president

In 2020, Tuesday, Dec. 8 is “safe harbor” day. Under commonwealth law, every state is expected to have actually made its choice results official by the end of the day.

The adhering to Monday, Dec. 14, in what has been a mostly ceremonial gesture, the electors will actors ballots for president and vice president and are meant to follow the vote of your state. The deadline to obtain the electors’ ballots native all states is Dec. 23. Castle are sent to the president of the Senate, however there’s no penalty if the meeting is missed.

On rare occasions, some electors have chose to cast their votes because that a different candidate. These are recognized as “faithless electors,” and the actions is safeguarded by the Constitution. However a current ruling of the can be fried Court declared that a state is permitted to need presidential electors to assistance the winner the its famous vote and also may punish or replace those that don’t.

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The votes room counted in ~ a joint session the Congress, which will take ar Jan. 6, and also the president is officially elected and later inaugurated ~ above Jan. 20.