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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa's role in the Electoral College, explained

48 states and the District of Columbia have a winner-take-all policy, meaning the candidate receiving the majority of the votes takes all the electors.

The 2020 presidential candidates have recently focused their campaigns on swing states that could decide the Nov. 3 election such as Iowa, Minnesota or Pennsylvania.

270 is the magic number President Donald Trump and and former Vice President Joe Biden are competing for: the number of electoral votes needed to secure a victory.

It's the process the United States has used since the founding of the country to determine the presidential winner every four years. 

And while the Electoral College may not reflect the most popular vote such as in 2016, it is used to reflect the population of each state.

Here's how it works: each state is given a group of electoral votes equal to its number of representatives in congress. 

In Iowa, there are sixPretty small compared to states like California, who have 55.

Credit: AP

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What makes Iowa a battleground state compared to California is that there is no guarantee the majority of Iowans will vote Democrat or Republican while the majority of California tends to vote Democrat.

Here's a look at the difference between the 2012 election between President Obama and Mitt Romney, plus the 2016 between Hillary and President Trump.

Citizens do not directly choose the president but rather guide the choices of a select few.

Iowa and 47 others states, along with the District of Columbia, have a winner-take-all policy. That means the candidate receiving the majority of that state's popular vote takes all the electors.

Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that uses the district method, allocating electoral votes to whoever wins a specific district.

But it's never a guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes overall, wins the electoral vote. In fact, two of the past five elections the popular vote candidate winner lost, but won using the electoral method

The electoral process has not been amended since 1804.

Click/tap here to access Local 5's Voter Guide or text VOTE to 515-457-1026. Live election results will be available Nov. 3 at this link.

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