The Electoral College is a group of people that elects the president and the vice president of the United States. (The word “college” in this case simply refers to an organized body of people engaged in a common task.)
In the United States presidential election, the electorate don’t vote for the presidential candidates directly, in a popular vote. Instead, they will vote to elect specific people, known as “electors” to the college. Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes based on its population.
The electors are appointed by the political parties in each state. So after Tuesday’s election where Donald Trump ended up winning the popular vote, then electors that the Republican Party had chosen will cast votes for him in their state capitals in December 19 formally, in the US tradition.
The electors are asked to cast their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year, that’s December 19.
But most people don’t pay attention to that because, technically, it’s the election of the electors that matters. And on Election Day, we’re electing the electors who elect the president.
It takes at least 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. There are 538 electoral votes in all.
In 2008, CNN projected Barack Obama as the winner of the presidential election after the then- senator skyrocketed from 220 electoral votes to 297 votes after results from some Western states, including California, came in.