ELECTORAL VOTES
for the Presidential Election

Some people may not be aware that United States citizens don't vote directly for their President. Instead, they vote for electors who do the actual electing! Both Democrats and Republicans in each state choose a group of electors-as many electors as the state has members of Congress and the Senate. When the citizens vote in November, that is called the popular vote. Whichever party's candidate wins the popular vote in a state also wins the votes of all the state's electors. In December, the winning party's electors go to their state capital to officially vote for their candidate.

This Electoral College has been around for over 200 years. It sometimes gets confusing though. In our last election, Al Gore got a half million more votes than George Bush, but Gore lost the election. Does that make any sense? If more people voted for him, why didn't he become President? Well, the answer is simple: George Bush won more electoral votes (or states) than Al Gore. Electoral votes decide who will become President.

Check out the map below. Notice that some states have more electoral votes than others. So what decides how many electoral votes are given to each state? Well, the bigger the state's population, the more electoral votes they get. The number of electoral votes can change too. Every ten years the United States government counts its population. Then votes are taken away or added to each state. The minimum amount of votes is 3.
Arizona 10 votes Alaska 3 votes Hawaii 4 votes Washington 11 votes Oregon 7 votes California 55 votes Nevada 5 votes Montana 3 votes Idaho 4 votes Wyoming 3 votes Utah 5 votes Colorado 9 votes New Mexico 5 votes North Dakota 3 votes South Dahota 3 votes Nebraska 5 votes Kansas 6 votes Oklahoma 7 votes Texas 34 votes Minnesota 10 votes Iowa 7 votes Missouri 11 votes Arkansas 6 votes Louisiana 9 votes Mississippi 6 votes Alabama 9 votes Georgia 15 votes Florida 27 votes South Carolina 8 votes Tennessee 11 votes North Carolina 15 votes Kentucky 8 votes Wisconsin 10 votes Illinois 21 votes Indiana 11 votes Michigan 17 votes Ohio 20 votes West Virginia 5 votes Virginia 13 votes Maryland 10 votes Washington, D.C. 3 votes Washington, D.C. 3 votes Delaware 3 votes Pennsylvania 21 votes New Jersey 15 votes New York 31 votes Connecticut 7 votes Rhode Island 4 votes Massachusetts 12 votes New Hampshire 4 votes Vermont 3 votes Maine 4 votes

Click on this link to find out about past elections: http://www.270towin.com/ and see how many presidents won their election by electoral votes instead of popular votes. If you were to add up the electoral votes of all 50 states, there would be a total of 538 votes available. To win, a candidate needs 270 votes. That's more than half the electoral votes.

 

 

 

Use the map above to help you answer these questions.
Put your mouse over a state if you don't know the abbreviation.

1. How many states have 20 or more electoral votes? 
2. How many have 10-19 votes?
3. How many have five or fewer?
4. How many electoral votes does your state have?
5. Who votes in the electoral college?
6. How long has the electoral college been around?
7. What state has the most electoral votes?
8. There are 51 places that have electoral votes on this map. If there are only 50 states, where do the other votes come from.
(Hint: it's a place that has only 3 electoral votes.)
9. Why do you think candidates spend more time campaigning in California, New York, and Pennsylvania instead of in Utah, Wyoming, or Alaska?
10. Is it possible to have less popular votes and still win the Presidential Election? How?