Every four years we elect our President and Vice President, and every four years we have to subject ourselves to an endless debate about the Electoral College. We are barraged with rhetoric and demagoguery from multiple factions fighting to justify and implement their ideology. Some want to keep the Electoral College, others claim it takes away the effectiveness of the people's votes. Those wanting to abolish the electoral college are in favor of leaving the election strictly up to a count of the popular vote. The draw back, according to some, is that this may result in a few ultra populated areas determining the outcome of an election. Which ever side you are on, you can not deny the complexity of our Electoral College, and the confusion that may result from tight presidential races.
To begin with, each State is allocated a number of Electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives (which may change each decade according to the size of each State's population as determined in the Census). The political parties (or independent candidates) in each State submit to the State's chief election official a list of individuals pledged to their candidate for president and equal in number to the State's electoral vote. Usually, the major political parties select these individuals either in their State party conventions or through appointment by their State party leaders while third parties and independent candidates merely designate theirs. Members of Congress and employees of the federal government are prohibited from serving as an Elector in order to maintain the balance between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
After their caucuses and primaries, the major parties nominate their candidates for president and vice president in their national conventions traditionally held in the summer preceding the election. Third parties and independent candidates follow different procedures according to the individual State laws. The names of the duly nominated candidates are then officially submitted to each State's chief election official so that they might appear on the general election ballot.
On the Tuesday following the first Monday of November in years divisible by four, the people in each State cast their ballots for the party slate of Electors representing their choice for president and vice president. Although, as a matter of practice, general election ballots normally say "Electors for" each set of candidates rather than list the individual Electors on each slate.