After a grueling 17 months, the 2016 Presidential Election campaign season is finally coming to a close today. Hillary Clinton (D), Donald Trump (R), Gary Johnson (L), or Jill Stein (G) will be announced as the next President of the United States. BEFORE I GO ON – have you voted? Because if you haven’t, and you’re registered to vote, please stop reading this and go to your designated polling site NOW!

Moving right along, I guess it’s a waiting game now, and an especially painful and anxious one at that. With a total of 538 members of the Electoral College, 270 will determine the next four years – and possibly the next 100 years – of the United States. Some of you may be wondering, where do those numbers come from? I thought it would be helpful to spend a little time explaining the Electoral College system we have in place in this country, and how that is reflective of a Representative Democracy (a denomination of Democracy). The number 538 is the summation of the country’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and three electors given to the District of Columbia. After some simple arithmetic, 270 is the minimum electoral votes you can receive to establish a majority, and thus a winner.

The minimum number of electoral votes a state can receive is three (two Senators and at least one Representative). The number of electoral votes varies across the 50 states due to the varying number of Representatives in the state’s House Delegation, which is determined by the state’s population. In 48 states, the candidate that wins the majority of the votes in the state wins all the electoral votes of that state. In the two remaining states, Nebraska and Maine, there is a system called Proportional Representation. In this system, the candidate that wins the majority of the votes in the state wins two electoral votes, and the remaining electoral votes are divided up according to the results of the state’s individual congressional districts. Some people find the Electoral College system to be fine, others find it outdated and/or need of reform, or even a complete overhaul. And that is an entirely different discussion to be had. For now, know how your vote influences who we pick as our nation’s next leader(s).

The last year and a half have truly been a whirlwind of emotion, vitriol and vigor. For me personally, this was my first presidential election to cast my vote in, and it was an empowering experience to do so. To engage in civic duty and make a contribution to the future of this country is a particularly unique and special thing. I know that this election cycle doesn’t have everyone feeling similarly, but at the end of today, the American people will have chosen the individual they believe will lead our country in a positive direction. And that’s a pretty cool (and kind of scary) thing.

Relevant Links:
Be an informed voter! Check out FactCheck and Politifact to get the facts straight on all things political.

Live Election Results:

The Electoral College explained:

Hillary Clinton (D) Official Website
Donald Trump (R) Official Website
Gary Johnson (L) Official Website
Jill Stein (G) Official Website