WASHINGTON, Wash. - The electoral college is a uniquely American institution convened by state legislatures every four years in accordance with the U.S. constitution to formally choose the president and vice-president.

It comprises 538 electors, one for every seat in Congress plus three for the unrepresented District of Columbia. Electors are "pledged" to a presidential ticket based on the results of the popular vote in each state or district. Maine and Nebraska allocate their electors based on both the statewide vote and results in congressional districts.

Since states are represented by varying numbers of lawmakers in Congress, based on census results, they allocate different numbers of electors. Here, in descending order, is the number of electors pledged by each state:

55: California

38: Texas

29: Florida, New York

20: Illinois, Pennsylvania

18: Ohio

16: Georgia, Michigan

15: North Carolina

14: New Jersey

13: Virginia

12: Washington

11: Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee

10: Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin

9: Alabama, Colorado, South Carolina

8: Kentucky, Louisiana

7: Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon

6: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah

5: Nebraska, New Mexico, West Virginia

4: Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island

3: Alaska, Delaware, D.C., Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming

Total: 538

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2020.