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U.S. Elections

Electoral Vote Distribution among States

Registered voters in each State and the District of Columbia vote for the President and Vice President.
The President is NOT chosen by a nation-wide popular vote (= summing up all votes to see who has the most).
The electoral vote totals determine the winner, not the statistical plurality or majority a candidate may have in the nation-wide vote totals.
Electoral votes are awarded on the basis of the popular vote in each State.

Winner-takes-All' Rule
48 out of the 50 states have the 'winner-takes-all' rule for the Electoral College (also valid for D.C.).
In these states, whichever candidate receives a majority of the vote, or a plurality of the popular vote (less than 50 percent but more than any other candidate) takes all of the State's electoral votes. For example, all 55 of California's electoral votes go to the winner of that State election, even if the margin of victory is only 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent.
Only 2 states, Nebraska and Maine, do not follow the winner-takes-all rule. In those states, there could be a split of electoral votes among candidates through the State's system for proportional allocation of votes. For example, Maine has four electoral votes and two Congressional districts. It awards one electoral vote per Congressional district and two by the state-wide, "at-large" vote. It is possible for Candidate A to win the first district and receive one electoral vote, Candidate B to win the second district and receive one electoral vote, and Candidate C, who finished a close second in both the first and second districts, to win the two at-large electoral votes. Although this is a possible scenario, it has not actually occurred in recent elections.

'Electoral College' is controversial
The Electoral College process is part of the original design of the U.S. Constitution. It would be necessary to pass a Constitutional amendment to change this system.
The 12th Amendment, the expansion of voting rights, and the use of the popular vote in the states as the vehicle for selecting electors has substantially changed the process.
It's said that more than 700 different proposals were made since the independence to alter the Presidential election process. E.g. direct nation-wide election by the People, but none have been passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.
Under the most common method for amending the Constitution, an amendment must be proposed by a TWO-THIRDS majority in both houses of Congress and ratified by THREE-FOURTHS of the states.

538 Electoral Votes


The number of electoral votes allotted to each State corresponds to the number of Representatives and Senators that each State sends to Congress.
The distribution of electoral votes among the states can vary every 10 years depending on the results of the United States Census.
One of the primary functions of the Census is to reapportion the 435 members of the House of Representatives among the states, based on the current population. The reapportionment of the House determines the division of electoral votes among the states. In the Electoral College, each State gets one electoral vote for each of its Representatives in the House, and one electoral vote for each of its two Senators.
Thus, every state has at least 3 electoral votes, because the Constitution grants each State two Senators and at least one Representative. In addition to the 535 electoral votes divided among the states, the District of Columbia has three electoral votes because the 23rd Amendment granted it the same number of votes as the least populated State.
If a State gains or loses a Congressional district, it will also gain or lose an electoral vote.

More about the Electoral College: The Electoral College - The U.S. Election Process

Distribution of Electoral Votes 2012, 2016, 2020


Total Electoral Vote: 538
Needed to Elect: 270
Based on the U.S. Census 2010.
Next Census: 2020
StateNumber of Electoral Votes 2012, 2016, 2020
Alabama9
Alaska3
Arizona11
Arkansas6
California55
Colorado9
Connecticut7
Delaware3
D.C.3
Florida29
Georgia16
Hawaii4
Idaho4
Illinois20
Indiana11
Iowa6
Kansas6
Kentucky8
Louisiana8
Maine4
Maryland10
Massachusetts11
Michigan16
Minnesota10
Mississippi6
Missouri10
Montana3
Nebraska5
Nevada6
New Hampshire4
New Jersey14
New Mexico5
New York29
North Carolina15
North Dakota3
Ohio18
Oklahoma7
Oregon7
Pennsylvania20
Rhode Island4
South Carolina9
South Dakota3
Tennessee11
Texas38
Utah6
Vermont3
Virginia13
Washington12
West Virginia5
Wisconsin10
Wyoming3
Source: Federal Election Commission; U.S. Census 2010

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Distribution of Electoral Votes


Total Electoral Vote: 538
Needed to Elect: 270
Based on the U.S. Census 2000.
Next Census: 2010
State2004 & 2008 Elections
Alabama9
Alaska3
Arizona10
Arkansas6
California55
Colorado9
Connecticut7
Delaware3
D.C.3
Florida27
Georgia15
Hawaii4
Idaho4
Illinois21
Indiana11
Iowa7
Kansas6
Kentucky8
Louisiana9
Maine4
Maryland10
Massachusetts12
Michigan17
Minnesota10
Mississippi6
Missouri11
Montana3
Nebraska5
Nevada5
New Hampshire4
New Jersey15
New Mexico5
New York31
North Carolina15
North Dakota3
Ohio20
Oklahoma7
Oregon7
Pennsylvania21
Rhode Island4
South Carolina8
South Dakota3
Tennessee11
Texas34
Utah5
Vermont3
Virginia13
Washington11
West Virginia5
Wisconsin10
Wyoming3
Source: Federal Election Commission; U.S. Census 2000
 

Document Information
Source: FEC - Federal Elections Commission; National Archives NARA
Last modified: 20121023
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