Why the US uses the Electoral College in presidential elections

Why the Electoral College exists
Why the Electoral College exists
Key Points
  • The Electoral College is a body of legislative officials that directly elects the president of the United States.
  • There's a debate over whether the Electoral College represents the interest of the country adequately.

With the 2020 presidential election approaching, many voters recognize where they vote may be more consequential than whom they choose in the voting booth.

Like most elections, a handful of states may determine the winner. That's because of the Electoral College.

The Electoral College chooses the president based on state vote totals, and recent history has shown the winning candidate for president does not need to earn the most individual votes to win the Electoral College vote.

In the 2016 election, President Donald Trump beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 74 electoral votes, despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million. This lead to some Electoral College critics to question its place in American politics.

Proponents argue that the Electoral College ensures that the wider American population is represented in national elections.

Watch the video above for more on why the Electoral College exists and what the Supreme Court is weighing about members of the college ahead of the 2020 election.

Correction: The Supreme Court may rule on an aspect of the Electoral College system. An earlier version of this report misstated the extent of the court's expected decision.