The US Electoral College distorts campaigns, disenfranchises voters, and drives partisanship, say scholars who argue the popular vote is far better for choosing presidents.
Otherwise, “The great majority of American voters exercise no real political voice in the outcome of presidential elections,” says Doug McAdam, professor of sociology at Stanford University.
Under the United States Constitution, the Electoral College determines who is the president, based on vote totals in each state. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the presidency. Each state’s number of electors is equal to its number of members of Congress (representatives plus senators). Washington, DC, also has three electors, so the total number of Electoral College members is 538.
Four out of five Americans exercised no real electoral voice in the 2012 presidential election due to the winner-take-all Electoral College system, which made campaigns focus on the handful of “battleground” states that were up for grabs heading into the election.