How many Electors does each State have?

Voting booths in polling place
Blend Images - Hill Street Studios/ Brand X Pictures/ Getty Images

The number of electors in the Electoral College is established in the United States Constitution.

First, within the context of the Constitution, the meaning of college, as in the Electoral College, does not mean a school, but of a group of people organized toward a common goal.

The Electoral College was set up in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of citizens who are eligible to vote. The 12th Amendment expanded voting rights. The result was that the use of the popular vote in the States as the vehicle for selecting electors changed radically.

According to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers determined that every state should be given votes equal to the number of senators and representatives in its U.S. Congressional delegation. This gives two votes for its senators in the U.S. Senate plus a number of votes equal to the number of its members in the U. S. House of Representatives. Therefore, every state has at least three electoral votes because even the smallest states have one representative and two senators.

The number of any additional electoral votes per state is determined by the United States Census which is completed every ten years. After the Census, the number of representatives is reapportioned to reflect any changes in population. That can mean the number of electors each state can vary in different presidential elections.

Because of the 23 Amendment, the District of Columbia is treated as a state and allocated three electors for purposes of the Electoral College.

In total, there are 538 electors in the Electoral College. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. 

There is no law that requires the Electors in the Electoral College to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. These decisions are made by each state where restrictions fall into two categories—Electors that are bound by state law and those that are bound by pledges to political parties.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration maintains a website dedicated to information regarding the Electoral College.

The website lists the number of votes per state, the records of the Electoral College elections, and links to the Electoral College process in each state. There is also contact information for each Secretary of State on the National Association of Secretaries of State: http://www.nass.org

The Secretary of State of each state can provide information as to the voting procedure and whether or not the voting is open to the public.

Currently, the state with the largest number of electoral votes is California with 55.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration also offers a frequently asked question page with links such as the ones below: