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Everything You Need to Know About the Electoral College Vote

3 minute read
Updated: | Originally published: ;

The 538 members of the Electoral College will convene in states across the U.S. on Monday to cast ballots that will all but certainly put President-elect Donald Trump in the White House. The process is largely symbolic, seen as a formal end to the election that was decided by voters on Nov. 8. But given the controversy surrounding the 2016 election, the process is getting new attention. Ahead of the vote on Monday, electors have faced calls to reconsider casting their votes for Trump even if he was the candidate chosen by their state, in the wake of concerns about Trump’s business conflicts and Russia’s efforts to influence the election’s outcome. Some are hoping enough electors will vote against Trump to keep him from the White House, but the likelihood of that occurring is low. Here’s a rundown of how things work:

What will happen on Monday?

Electors will convene in each state to cast two ballots–one for the president and another for vice president—to select the next administration. The 538 members are not necessarily politicians, though most are, but are chosen by state party leaders to cast ballots. Each state has as many electors as it does members of Congress, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. After the ballots are cast, they’ll be sent to the U.S. Congress, which will convene in early January to accept the votes.

Can electors vote for who they want?

Electors typically vote for the person who voters in their state selected during the general election. They are not required to do so under the Constitution, but there are laws in some states that would levy fines against so-called “faithless” electors who vote against the will of the people of their state. Thirty-seven electors would have to switch their expected picks and vote against Trump in order to sway the outcome, though few have said they intend to do so ahead of the vote.

What happens to the ballots after Monday’s vote?

Once the ballots are sent to Washington, members of the House and Senate will convene on Jan. 6 to count the vote. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to preside over the proceedings and call the presidency for whoever wins at least 270 votes. The fact that the sitting Vice President oversees the count led to an awkward moment in 2001, when Vice President Al Gore had to announce his own loss. There is a process through which a lawmaker can object or challenge the results from a state or the vote of an individual elector. Votes that are cast against the state results can also be objected to or tossed at this point.

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