The U.S. presidential election is shining the spotlight once again on the Electoral College, a system of electing the president that some consider archaic.
Under the more than 200-year-old U.S. political system, the Electoral College actually decides the presidential race, and technically American voters do not directly elect their president. The Electoral College is composed of representatives from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Each state is given a number of electoral votes based on its congressional representation and its population. The more populous a state is, the more electoral votes it will have. In nearly all cases, the candidate who wins the highest number of popular votes in a state gets all of that state's electoral votes.
The Electoral College representatives will meet in their state capitals in mid-December to cast their votes. The presidential candidate must receive a simple majority, at least 270 out of 538 total electoral votes, to win the election.
The system has resulted in four elections - 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 - in which the winner of the popular vote has lost the election.