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

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!

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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

3 thoughts on “US Elections: Ten strange facts about how the President is elected

  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.

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