What is the Electoral College and how does it work?

538 members will make final vote for president Dec. 14.
Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 17:50:55-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Many Americans are confused by the Electoral College, the method for indirectly electing the president of the United States.

It was established by Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution and modified by the 12th and 23rd amendments.

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The Electoral College consists of 538 members, one for each U.S. senator and representative, and three additional electors representing Washington, D.C.

The race to 270 electoral votes and the presidency is a system that has been in place since the days of the framers of the Constitution.

"That is the last word. There is no review, no challenge. That is the automatic statement of transfer of power. Period," said election attorney Ben Kuehne.

The college's 538 members will make the final vote for president on Dec. 14.

Electors are assigned to the states based on population. Florida has 29 electors.

"The electoral college is the people who choose the president, that stated we are the people who choose the members of the Electoral College," said Dr. Charles Zelden of Nova Southeastern University.

Zelden said each state much finalize its presidential vote by the Safe Harbor Deadline, which this year is Dec. 8.

Any state that fails to do that risks losing its electors and paves the way for state legislators to cast the votes.

"Rather than lose our electors, the Legislature will say that we're going take back our inherent power and choose our own slate," Zelden said. "The point is, it's not enough for people to be yelling and screaming, 'Oh my God. This is fraud.' It needs to literally be caught up in litigation recounts in which nobody really knows who won the vote."

Zelden said that scenario is unlikely since many states can handle recounts quickly, and courts look to handle legal challenges before the deadline.