How Does The Electoral College Work And Is It Fair?
Here's a little information that Americans have usually been able to ignore.
It's about the Electoral College, a uniquely American institution that's been with us from the beginning and that's occasionally given us fits. Typically, the Electoral College meets and does its thing a month or so after the election and few people even notice or care. Once in a while, though, people do notice and do care – a lot.
Will 2016 be one of those years? It's not something reasonable people would hope for, but it cannot be ruled out. First, the basics.
How It Works
Despite popular belief, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for the popular election of the American president. It provides for popular election of presidential electors. Each candidate who qualifies for a given state's ballot must designate certain individuals who will serve as his or her electors if that candidate wins the popular vote in that state.
When each state certifies a winner of its overall popular vote, that winner is entitled to send all his or her electors to that state's capital, where they will officially record their votes for their candidate. All the electors in all the states do it on the same day, the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December. This year it is Dec. 19, which is the latest it can be, just as this year's Election Day is the latest it can be.
In these proceedings in the states, the winner of the statewide popular vote generally takes all the Electoral College votes, a rule stretching back to 1824. - NPR