Learn about the role of the Electoral College and how America elects the President of the United States.
The President of the United States of America is indirectly elected by the citizens through a “college of electors”, created in 1787 by the framers of the Constitution (Article II, Section 1). When you vote for president, you are actually casting a vote for your candidate's electors.There are a total of 538 electors in the Electoral College. A candidate must receive 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
Electors are allocated to each state based on their representation in Congress. Every state is allocated 2 electors as every state has 2 United States Senators, plus a number of votes equal to the number of its members in the U. S. House of Representatives. Arizona has 9 Congressional Districts (therefore 9 House of Representatives) so Arizona is allocated a total of 11 electors. The number of congressional districts allocated to each state is based on population.
When an official presidential candidate files their paperwork to get their name placed on the state's general election ballot, they must file a nomination paper for themselves, their vice-presidential running mate, and their electors. Arizona voters will see at the top of their ballot the candidates running for presidential, their vice-presidential running mate, and the names of their 11 electors. Arizona has a winner take all allocation, meaning whichever candidate receives the highest number of votes receives all 11 electoral votes.
On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, the Electors meet at their state capitol and cast their votes for both president and vice-president. The electoral votes for all states are then counted before a Joint Session of Congress in January, at which point the President is declared elected.
The Founding Fathers debated whether Congress should pick the president or if the president should be elected by a popular vote of eligible citizens. The Electoral College was the resulting compromise. A constitutional amendment would be required to change the process of how the president is elected.