What is the "Electoral College"?

The Electoral College was established by the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

When voters go to the polls in November, they’re not voting directly for the President or Vice-President, instead they’re voting for representatives known as “electors.”  The electors are chosen by the various political parties and pledge to vote for that party’s candidate.  There are 538 electors in the Electoral College, of which California has 55.  To become President of the United States, a candidate needs to win 270 electoral votes. 

(Revised September 5, 2008)