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How Does the Electoral College Work?

1 of the Main Reasons It's (Still) So Hard to Understand Why Hillary Clinton Lost

It's official: Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes than Donald Trump. If you feel devastated and puzzled that, despite this, she will not be the next president, grab a tissue and allow us to explain what happened.

The United States voting process is centered on the electoral college, which is an organized group that elects the president and vice president. Each state gets a certain number of electors (representatives who actually vote) based on the size of its population. Highly populated states like California get more electors (55), while smaller states like Vermont get fewer (three). Most states have a winner-takes-all rule instead of a proportional allocation of votes.

When you voted on Nov. 8, you were actually choosing for electors who will vote on your behalf on Dec. 19. There are 538 electoral votes, and a candidate needs more than half (270) to win.

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This means that while more people voted for Clinton, Trump still won because he got more electoral votes. According to final numbers, Clinton received 65.8 million votes (48 percent) and Trump got 62.9 million votes (46 percent), yet she only pulled in 232 electoral votes and he tallied up 306.

This has happened four other times in our history when the candidate who won the popular vote lost the electoral vote and the election. The most recent example was in 2000, when Al Gore received more than half a million votes more than George W. Bush but still did not take the Oval Office.

Sometimes electors do go rogue, but according to The New York Times, these "faithless electors," as they are called, have never changed the final presidential results — and they didn't on Dec. 19 when they confirmed Trump's presidency.

Given the outcome on this election, tens of thousands of people are now signing petitions to abolish the electoral college system. But as the Washington Post points out, Democrats "have virtually no power to make that happen — and even if they did have any power, it'd be immensely difficult," since it is written into our Constitution.

At the end of the day, the Clinton vs. Trump election was extremely close, and if you were on the electoral losing side, know that there are many people (more than 65 million) who likely agree with you on several topics.

This is the time to meet with others (both like minded and not) to discuss the issues, donate to nonprofits you believe in supporting (such as Planned Parenthood), and make your voice heard to your state representatives. Then, in 2018 and 2020, encourage other millennials to vote, because the fate of the country will fall into your generation's hands.

Image Source: Getty
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