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The United States Electoral College is the group of presidential electors required by the Constitution to form every four years for the sole purpose of appointing the president and vice president.
Each state appoints electors pursuant to the methods described by its legislature, equal in number to its congressional delegation (senators and representatives). Of the current 538 electors, an absolute majority of 270 or more electoral votes is required to elect the president and vice president. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority there, a contingent election is held by the United States House of Representatives to elect the president, and by the United States Senate to elect the vice president.
On five occasions, the winner of the popular vote did not capture the presidency.
Two states, Nebraska and Maine, do not have winner-take-all systems.
A similar electoral college was previously used by the Holy Roman Empire.
Electors are prohibited from meeting in one central location.
On rare occasions, electors do not vote as pledged.
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