If you thought the Presidential election was over and all the votes were counted, you’re wrong.
The formal election is Monday, December 17, when “electors” meet in their respective state capitals to cast their votes for President and Vice President.
Although the names Barack Obama and Mitt Romney appeared on the November ballot, you were really voting for a slate of “electors” who pledged to vote for their party’s candidates on December 17. But, based on the popular election results, it’s no mystery how the electoral votes will go.
Collectively, the electors are known as the Electoral College. They were created by Article II of the Constitution to choose the President and Vice President. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Founding Fathers didn’t think the voters (then only white males) were informed enough to make wise decisions.
No Federal law requires electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states require electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote.
Today, it is rare for electors to disregard the popular vote by casting their electoral vote for someone other than their party’s candidate. Electors generally hold a leadership position in their party or were chosen to recognize years of loyal service to the party. Throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of electors have voted as pledged.
The Governor of each state prepares seven original Certificates of Ascertainment listing the appointed electors as soon as possible after the November election. Each certificate must be signed by the governor and carry the seal of the state. Since Federal law does not govern the general appearance of the Certificate of Ascertainment, these certificates range from simple to quite elaborate.
Once the electors vote, their “Certificates of Vote” are sent to Washington, DC, and that’s where the Office of the Federal Register, part of the National Archives, takes over. The Federal Register staff receives Certificates of Votes from each state and the District of Columbia and certifies them. Then Congress, in a joint session in early January, counts them and officially declares the winners.
Watch this video to see what’s happening right now.