US Elections: Ten strange facts about how the President is elected

Last Updated on

Here are ten interesting facts about how the US President is elected along with some easy-to-understand official resources on how the US elections are carried out. These are links that I came across while trying to learn more about the US electoral process.  Before we begin, I would like to point out that a clear winner need not emerge even if votes after polling on Nov. 8th indicate one!

Quick note: Many have started receiving copies of our new book, You can be rich too with goal-based investing. Please review the book at or Flipkart. This will help us become better writers. If you have not yet ordered, find out more about the book and grab your copy today! (it has hovered around the Amazon top 10 bestsellers list in the business:self-help category for the last two days)

Ten strange facts about how the US President is elected

  1. The US President and vice-president are not directly elected by the people!
  2. They are elected by the representatives of each state known as “electors”. The no of electors from each state is determined by the number of representatives to the US congress from each state, which in turn depends on the population. More populous states have more say on who gets to become president!
  3. The process by which electors are chosen, they meet to vote (Dec. 19th, 2016) and the votes are counted in Congress (Jan. 17th 2017) is known as electoral college. This way of electing a president is referred to as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens!
  4. When the people vote on Nov. 8th, they are merely offering their opinion of who should become the president to the electors of each state!
  5. There are 538 electors, and a presidential candidate to get more than half – at least 270 votes wins. The electors have no obligation to comply with how their states have voted!! Meaning, they could choose Trump if their state votes for Hillary or vice versa!!
  6. The electors have chosen differently from the popular vote four times before! The latest victim(!) was Al Gore in 2000. Previous instances occurred in 1824, 1876 and 1888. Will this be a fifth?! 🙂
  7. One vote is enough to swing the states vote in favour of Trump or Hillary.
  8. If the electoral college does not result in a winner, the senate can choose the president! John Quincy Adams became president in 1824 that way!
  9. Over the past 200 years, there have been 700 proposals to get rid of, or modify the electoral college system!( ref 1)
  10. “There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. The American Bar Association has criticised the Electoral College as “archaic” and “ambiguous” and its polling showed 69 percent of lawyers favoured abolishing it in 1987” (ref 2)
  11. “Public opinion polls have shown Americans favoured abolishing it by majorities of 58 percent in 1967; 81 percent in 1968; and 75 percent in 1981.” (ref 3)

US Elections Roadmap (

Click on the image to view a large infographic. This image is directly loaded from USA.GOV

Electing a US President in Plain English (Common Craft)

References used for writing this post


BBC Video (“US elections explained” at the bottom of the post”).

5 US Archives

Do share if you found this useful

About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management.  He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Want to conduct a sales-free "basics of money management" session in your office?
I conduct free seminars to employees or societies. Only the very basics and getting-started steps are discussed (no scary math):For example: How to define financial goals, how to save tax with a clear goal in mind; How to use a credit card for maximum benefit; When to buy a house; How to start investing; where to invest; how to invest for and after retirement etc. depending on the audience. If you are interested, you can contact me: freefincal [at] Gmail [dot] com. I can do the talk via conferencing software, so there is no cost for your company. If you want me to travel, you need to cover my airfare (I live in Chennai)

Connect with us on social media

Content Policy

Freefincal has original unbiased, conflict-of-interest-free,  topical reports, reviews, commentary and analysis on all aspects of personal finance like mutual funds, stocks, insurance etc. All guest authors and contributors to the site also do not have any conflict of interest. If you find the content useful, please consider supporting us by (1) sharing our articles and (2) disabling ad-blockers for our site if you are using one. No promotional content We do not accept sponsored posts and link exchange requests from content writers and agencies. This is our privacy policy Our website is non-profit in nature. The revenue from the advertisement will only be used for hosting charges, domain registration charges, specific plugins necessary for traffic growth and analytics services for search engine optimisation.

Do check out my books

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingMy first book is meant to help you ask the right questions, seek the right answers and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.  It is also available in Kindle format.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You WantGamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantMy second book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner

The ultimate guide to travel by Pranav Surya

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover This is a deep dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step.  Get the pdf for ₹199 (instant download)

Free Apps for your Android Phone

All calculators from our book, “You can be Rich Too” are now available on Google Play!
Install Financial Freedom App! (Google Play Store)
Install Freefincal Retirement Planner App! (Google Play Store)
Find out if you have enough to say "FU" to your employer (Google Play Store)

Blog Comment Policy

Your thoughts are vital to the health of this blog and are the driving force behind the analysis and calculators that you see here. We welcome criticism and differing opinions. I will do my very best to respond to all comments asap. Please do not include hyperlinks or email ids in the comment body. Such comments will be moderated and I reserve the right to delete the entire comment or remove the links before approving them.


  1. It was total surprise to me to know that the popular vote of citizens technically does not mean anything, though in practice it has happened only 4 times in past that Electoral college has voted differently.
    Also why the system is not changed despite so much popular opposition from all sides, is a mystery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *