Elections FAQ: What you need to know

- Not sure exactly what goes down Election Day? FOX 2 put together a list of FAQs to help you understand where your vote is going.

What is the Electoral College?
The Electoral College made up of 538 electors. Why 538? It’s the combination the country’s 435 representatives, 100 senators, and the 3 electors allocated to the District of Columbia. For a candidate to win, they need at least 270 electoral votes. Michigan is worth 16 electoral votes.

What is an elector?
The number of electors a state* is given is the number of representatives and senators they have. Each state has two senators, and the number of representatives they get is based on their population (determined every 10 years through a census).

*D.C. can have no more electors than the state with the lowest population, which in the latest 2010 census is Wyoming. Wyoming has three electors, therefore D.C. has three electoral votes.

How are electors chosen?
Usually by the state’s political parties. They’re typically high-ranking party leaders in their respective states, as well as state-elected officials or people who are closely affiliated with the presidential candidates.

How does the voting work?
All but two states -- Maine and Nebraska -- follow a “winner take all” method. The candidate that receives the majority of votes at the polls in that state receives that state’s Electoral College votes. Nebraska and Maine use the congressional district system.

What happens in a tie?
If one candidate does not receive a majority of electoral votes, which is at least 270, the House of Representatives decides. If the Electoral College fails to elect a vice president, the Senate makes the call.

Can you win the popular vote and still lose an election?
Yes, you can. This happened in 2002, when Al Gore won the popular vote by .51 percent, but lost the election after George W. Bush received more electoral votes (271-266).

Will I be voting on any ballot measures?
No. Though 10 measures were filed and circulated, covering topics such as marijuana legalization and gun control, no ballot measures were certified to appear on the ballot in Michigan.

Anything I should watch for in Michigan?
Michigan has a GOP trifecta, meaning the state’s House of Representatives and Senate are Republican-controlled (a majority of members are Republican in each chamber, so the GOP calls the shots) and the governor is Republican. But the House has been called a battleground chamber, and may flip to becoming Democrat-controlled.

The state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the entire Upper Peninsula and 16 northern Michigan counties, is expected to be one of the most competitive races in the U.S. Another big race is the 7th Congressional District, which includes Monroe, Eaton, Branch, Lenawee, Jackson and Hillsdale counties, as well as parts of Washtenaw County.

What about on a national level?
With Hillary Clinton leading by a large margin in the polls, she’s looking more at down-ballot races. The Senate has a chance to flip from Republican to Democrat-controlled, which would help Clinton should she win the White House. CNN gives Senate Republicans only a 33 percent chance to retain a majority. On the other hand, the House is more likely to become more conservative -- so the gridlock on Capitol Hill likely won’t change.


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