An official website of the United States government

The Electoral College: 270 Votes to Win_eJournal USA
June 19, 2020

Millions of U.S. voters cast ballots in nationwide elections for federal offices. Federal elections occur in even-numbered years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November for the popular vote. But every four years, delegates of the Electoral College—538 men and women—elect the next president of the United States. Electoral elections take place in 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C. on December 15.

This indirect election system is the Electoral College. Devised in 1787 by the drafters of the U.S. Constitution, it puzzles Americans and non-Americans alike. It reflects the federal governing system of allocating powers not only to a national government and to the people, but also to the states.  Originally the electoral college was meant to balance the interests of the original 13 states and the American people.

Today, presidential candidates address issues of nationwide interest to voters to garner the required 270 electoral votes to win. This legacy issue of eJournal USA provides a better understanding of the historical reasons for an Electoral College and how it functions in the federal elections cycle.

PDF – web English (7 MB)
PDF – print English (29 MB)