Does the Electoral College make sense?

Oct 12, 2012 | By TIME For Kids Staff

In most elections, the candidate with the most votes wins. But when it comes to picking a U.S. President, things aren't quite so simple. Weeks after Election Day, a group of 538 people called the Electoral College will actually elect the President.

Here's how the Electoral College works. Each state is assigned a number of electoral votes, based on its population. The 538 electoral voters are chosen by political parties in each state. A candidate needs 270 votes to become President. If no candidate gets a majority of electoral votes, members of the House of Representatives choose the President. In 48 states, the winner of the popular vote gets all of that state's electoral votes. In Maine and Nebraska, the electoral votes can be split between the candidates.

The U.S. Constitution established the Electoral College. Some of the Founding Fathers wanted Congress to pick the President. Others wanted citizens to make the choice. The Electoral College was a compromise. Many people think it would be more fair for the popular vote alone to decide elections. Others agree with our Founding Fathers that the Electoral College is a necessary part of the process.

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