Step 1

Number of electors for each state determined

Each state is allotted one elector for each U.S. representative and senator it has. Washington D.C. receives three electors, the same number of electors as the least populous state.

Step 2

Electors are nominated

Mostly, electors are nominated at state party conventions and their names are given to the state’s election official.

Step 3

Voters select electors on Election Day

Voters in each state cast their ballot for the slate of electors representing their choice of presidential ticket. Electors’ names do not usually appear on the ballot.

Step 4

Electoral votes are tallied for states/jurisdictions

The slate of electors for the presidential ticket that receives the most votes is appointed and all of the electoral votes for that state go to those candidates (Except in Maine and Nebraska, which each give two at-large delegates to whoever wins the state and the rest to whoever wins in each congressional district.)

Step 5

Majority of electoral votes determines the winner

A candidate needs to win a majority of 538 electoral votes — 270 — to be elected president. If no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes, the House chooses the president and the Senate chooses the vice president.

Step 6

Electors ceremonially cast ballots for president

In December, in a largely ceremonial gesture, the electors cast ballots for president and vice president and are expected to follow the popular vote of their state. The votes are counted at a joint session of Congress, and the president is officially elected.

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