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Why does the US use the Electoral College to pick the president?

The popular vote winner has lost the Electoral College in two of the last five elections, including 2016.

AUSTIN, Texas — With just days until Election Day, you may be wondering: Why does the U.S. use the Electoral College to pick the president?

The Founding Fathers were split. Should Congress choose the president, or should it be left to the people?

The use of electors was the solution. When you cast your vote for president, you're deciding which electors will represent your state.

The number of electors in each state is determined by how many seats in Congress that state has, and that number is based on the state's population.

For example, let's look at Texas. Every state has two U.S. senators, so that's two electors. And Texas, the second-most-populous state, has 36 representatives in the U.S. House. The Lone Star State gets 38 total electors, and whichever candidate wins Texas will get all 38 electoral votes.

   

There are 538 total electoral votes: 535 for the states and three for the District of Columbia. Forty-eight states are winner-take-all. 

Maine and Nebraska give two electoral votes to the statewide winner and one for the winner of each congressional district.

A simple majority of 270 electoral votes is needed to win. If neither candidate gets to 270, the U.S. House of Representatives will determine the president.

But each state delegation, regardless of the number of electors, must vote as one, so there are only 50 votes up for grabs if that were to happen.

The U.S. Senate will determine the vice president with a simple majority vote of all 100 senators. 

The popular vote winner has lost the Electoral College in two of the last five elections, including 2016. This has prompted calls to switch to a popular vote system, but that requires a constitutional amendment. 

Once the polls close on Nov. 3, KVUE will keep track of the 2020 election results here. Mail-in ballots that are postmarked before Nov. 3 can be received by local elections offices by 5 p.m. the day after Election Day, so mail-in ballots in Texas are expected to take longer to tally.  

Be sure to download KVUE's app to get updates as they come in: kvue.com/app. On the KVUE app, you can customize the type of content you would like to be notified about and see the most, including election and voting information. Find out how to customize KVUE's app here

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