Each state gets two US senators. And each state gets one congressperson for every 700,000 people. For example, my state of Georgia has a population of approximately 10 million people. Ten million divided by 700,000 = 14.2. So Georgia has 14 congressional districts.
For purposes of the electoral college, the number of electors for each state is the number of congressional districts plus the number of US senate seats.
This gives Georgia 16 electors (14 congressional districts + 2 senate seats).
California has 55 electors because it has 53 congressional districts and 2 senate seats.
A state would need to have a population of 1.4 million (700,000 + 700,000) in order to have 2 congressional districts. Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Delaware all have populations under 1.4 million so they all have only one congressional seat. But regardless of population, each state gets 2 US senate seats. So these 7 states all have 3 electors (1 congressional district + 2 senate seats).
The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution gives the District of Columbia the same number of electors as the state with the lowest number of electors. So DC gets 3.
There are 435 congressional districts in America. And 100 US senate seats (2 x 50 states).
435 + 100 + 3 from DC = 538.
That’s where we get 538 total electoral votes.
538 divided by 2 = 269.
269 to 269 would be a tie.
So 270 electoral votes wins the presidency.
In each state, long before election day, both parties choose a slate of electors who will attend the electoral college if that party’s candidate wins on election day. For example, the Democratic party in Georgia has already chosen a slate of 16 Democratic electors who will attend the electoral college if Hillary wins Georgia. And the Republican party in Georgia has already chosen a slate of 16 Republican electors who will attend the electoral college if Trump wins Georgia.
The method by which parties select their respective slates is different in different states. Some state parties put the electors on their primary ballots; some select electors by vote at their state conventions; some allow the state committee to name the electors. Pennsylvania lets each campaign name the slate of electors.
Because of these methods of selection, there is virtually no chance that an elector will vote for the candidate of the other party.
Sure, an elector wanting 15 minutes of fame may threaten to write-in the name of a candidate who did not become the party’s nominee, but that’s important only to pundits trying to drive-up ratings or websites attempting to drive traffic to disgusting click-bait pictures or “you-won’t-believe-what-happened-next” headlines.
Every time conservatives lose a presidential election, they spend a few weeks pretending to be readying a move to socialist Canada or threatening to start a civil war or wondering aloud why we don’t just get rid of the “undemocratic” electoral college that must surely have been cooked up by liberals back when Jimmy Carter was president.
Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution:
“The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows: each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the congress.”
That was in the United States Constitution when it was ratified.
228 years ago.
That language was replaced in 1804 by the 12th Amendment which made it clear that the votes cast for the president and vice-president were to be cast separately.
So this is nothing new — we’ve always had it.
It isn’t “rigging.”
It’s just that this process favors liberal candidates because states with the most people, tend to be more liberal because there’s more diversity of thought and more tolerance of others.