10 things to know about the Electoral College ahead of today’s vote

Members of Ohio’s delegation to the Electoral College certify their votes during the voting ceremony at the Statehouse on Dec. 13, 2004. The Ohio delegation chose President George W. Bush that year. (AP Photo/Will Shilling)
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Members of Ohio’s delegation to the Electoral College certify their votes during the voting ceremony at the Statehouse on Dec. 13, 2004. The Ohio delegation chose President George W. Bush that year. (AP Photo/Will Shilling)

The Electoral College votes Monday for president of the United States. Here’s some things to know about the institution:

1. The Electoral College is a process, it is not an actual college or place. The electors meet at their respective state capitals on Dec. 19 to cast their votes for president.

2. There are 538 electors. It takes a majority of 270 votes to elect a president. Ohio has 18 electors, equal to the number of U.S. senators and members of the U.S. House in the state. Washington, D.C. also gets three electoral votes. The number changes after a new census or as state's are added. Ohio's strength in the Electoral College has shrunk in recent decades as the state's population has not grown as fast as other states. At its peak, Ohio had 26 electoral votes in the elections of 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1960. The state currently has the fewest electoral votes it has had since 1828.

3. Once the Electoral College votes, the results are sent to Congress and the National Archives. A joint session of Congress will count the results on Jan. 6.

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4. The framers settled on the Electoral College as a compromise between allowing Congress to pick the president or letting the voters decide. They opted for the states to pick electors — either through a popular vote or by the legislatures. The electors would then select the president.

5. The 12th amendment requires each of the electors to vote for president and vice president.

6. In four elections, the Electoral College has elected the candidate who did not win the popular vote, 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. In all four of those cases, the Democratic candidate was on the losing side of the electoral vote. It is expected to happen again with this election since Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump is expected to win the electoral vote.

7. No elector is required by federal law to honor their pledge, but some state laws do require them to. Ohio is one of the states that requires the electors to vote for the winner of the state's popular vote, which means Trump is expected to receive all 18 of Ohio's electoral votes. Twenty-nine states and D.C. have laws that punish "faithless electors." However they have never been enforced. Some states such as Michigan void votes by faithless electors. Faithless electors have never changed the outcome of an election.

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8. If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses the president, but each state delegation gets two votes. The vote is not based on population. If no candidate gets a majority of votes for vice president, the Senate makes the choice with each senator getting one vote.

9. Donald Trump should receive 306 electoral votes based of of his state wins on Nov. 8. He would need to lose 36 of his electors to lose his majority.

10. In the last 100 years, there's only been three elections where a candidate received more than 500 electoral votes — Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 (523), Richard Nixon in 1972 (520) and Ronald Reagan in 1984 (525).

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