With Election Day less than two weeks away, now is the time to review the operation of the Electoral College. The College consists of 538 electors in all, one for each of the nation's 435 congressmen and 100 senators, and three for the District of Columbia.
Here's a bit of trivia: who runs (or administers) the Electoral College? The genealogist's friend: the National Archives and Records Administration.
The National Archives has many duties, including preserving the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, preserving census returns, and much, much more. But did you know that NARA also administers the Electoral College, ensuring that the complicated and sometimes confusing steps in the electoral process are followed exactly:
As soon as election results are final, the States prepare seven or nine original "Certificates of Ascertainment" of the electors chosen, and send one original along with two certified copies (or three originals, if nine were prepared) to the Archivist of the United States.
Immediately after Election Day, the electors in each State meet to select the President and Vice President of the United States. The electors record their votes on six "Certificates of Vote," which are paired with the six remaining original "Certificates of Ascertainment." The electors sign, seal and certify the packages of electoral votes and immediately send them to the President of the Senate, the Archivist of the United States (who is required by law to administer the Electoral College) and other designated Federal and State officials.
On January 6, 2009, Congress will meet in joint session to count the electoral votes.