Electoral College

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Electoral College

The Electoral College is a compromise between the election of the President by Congress and election of the President by a popular vote. When casting ballots in a presidential election, the voters of each state vote for individuals (electors) who will represent their state in the Electoral College. 

Federal law requires that the electors of each state must meet in their respective state to cast their electoral votes on the Monday after the second Wednesday in the December following each presidential election. These votes are then counted by a joint session of Congress to determine the President and Vice President of the United States.

Number of Electoral Votes

Each State is allocated a number of Electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives (which could change each decade according to each State`s population as determined in the census). Ohio currently has 18 electoral votes. Click here for the electoral count by state.

Choosing the Electors

The political parties (or independent or write-in candidates) in each state certify to the state`s chief election official a list of individuals pledged to their candidate for president and equal in number to the state`s electoral vote. Usually, the major political parties select these individuals either in their state party conventions or through appointment by their state party leaders while third parties and independent candidates merely designate theirs.

Members of Congress and employees of the federal government are prohibited from serving as an Elector in order to maintain the balance between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

Winning Electors

The joint candidates for President and Vice-President who get the most popular votes in Ohio win all the electoral votes of that state.]. Ohio law (R.C.  3505.40) requires presidential electors to cast their votes in the Electoral College for the joint candidates of the political party that certified them to the Secretary of State. 

The Electoral Vote

On the Monday following the second Wednesday of December, each State`s Electors meet in their respective state and cast their electoral votes for president and vice president.

The electoral votes are then sealed and transmitted from each state to the President of the Senate who, on the following January 6, opens and reads them before both houses of the Congress.

The candidate for president with an absolute majority (one more than half of the total)electoral votes is declared president. Similarly, the vice presidential candidate with an absolute majority of electoral votes is declared vice-president.

In the event no one obtains an absolute majority of electoral votes for president, the U.S. House of Representatives selects the president from among the top three contenders, with each state casting only one vote. An absolute majority of the states is required to elect the president. Similarly, if no one obtains an absolute majority for vice president, then the U.S. Senate makes the selection from among the top two contenders for that office.

At noon on January 20, the duly elected president and vice-president are sworn into office.