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U.S. electoral college

Electoral college map for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections, using apportionment data released by the US Census Bureau.
Electoral college map for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections, using apportionment data released by the US Census Bureau.

Right click the image to view full size.

Map for the 2012 presidential election, using apportionment data released by the US Census Bureau.

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Presidential elections are held every fourth year on the first Tuesday in November. Sometimes it seems that the campaign for the next president begins the following day. But it hasn't always been that way. Nineteenth century presidential campaigns were often sedate affairs. James Garfield gave his speeches from the front porch of his rambling Victorian house in Mentor, Ohio.

The twentieth century saw the growth of the importance of party conventions. Candidates for president and vice president were chosen at conventions and often in the proverbial smoke-filled room. When newspaper circulation grew the general public had access to more current information. Radio and television brought the campaigns into America's living rooms. The Nixon-Kennedy debates marked a new role for television and they were the first public political dialogues between two presidential candidates. The decade of the sixties brought change across the socioeconomic spectrum and these changes were reflected in presidential elections, particularly in 1968.

Over the years the importance of conventions started to wane and primaries grew in importance. This gave particular states like Iowa and New Hampshire, with their early caucus and primaries, disproportionate importance and it also set the tone for the election. In recent years the growth of the presidential primaries, the internet and social media allow the candidates' message to be disseminated more broadly than ever. And it has made the race for president into a four-year battle.

Use the following roadmap to better understand the process and the issues.

Background from KCPL Premium Resources

Kanawha County Public Library provides a variety of services that give you access to authoritative resources that are often unavailable on the web without paying a subscription fee. These are made available free of charge to our patrons with their library card number and PIN.*

logo: EBSCOhost A search of EBSCOhost using the search terms "electoral college," "campaign financing," "presidential primaries" and "voter identification" will yield full-text articles from a variety of magazines and journals.

logo: Opposing Viewpoints In Context Opposing Viewpoints In Context identifies important issues and makes available articles from divergent points of view to compare and contrast the issue.

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e-Library

A search on the Dewey call number 324 will yield a wide variety of books and web sites related to elections.

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Government Resources

Federal Election Commission

The duties of the FEC, an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of presidential elections.

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United States Election Assistance Commission

The Election Assistance Commission is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet the Have America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. It also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems.

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National Archives

A list of frequently asked questions about the Electoral College.

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West Virginia Secretary of State Elections Division

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Nonpartisan sources of election information

Brookings Institution

The Brookings Institution is a nonpartisan public policy organization whose mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research.

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Center for Responsive Politics

The Center for Responsive Politics is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit group that tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.

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PolitiFact

Reporters and researchers examine statements from members of Congress, state legislators, the president, cabinet secretaries and anyone else who speaks up in American politics and researches their statements and rates the accuracy of each statement.

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ProCon.org

ProCon.org researches the US presidential candidates and their views on 61 issues including abortion, bailouts, education, medical marijuana and taxes. Basic, nonpartisan, pro-con presentations are useful for choosing a candidate

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Public Agenda

The Public Agenda describes itself as a nonpartisan and nonprofit public opinion research and public engagement organization that tries to strengthen the democracy's capacity to tackle tough issues.

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Vote 411

The League of Women Voters helps people register to vote and offers information on voting requirements and state deadlines.

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*If you would like further assistance please call 304-343-4646 extension 221 or text us using the Ask A Librarian text box. Our staff of professional reference librarians will be glad to assist you.

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