By Esra Kaymak Avci
Unlike any other country, the electoral process in the U.S. does not end when citizens go to the ballot boxes.
Instead, it is only a step in the process and the result may not coincide with the will of voters, according to the Constitution.
The Electoral College was established in the Constitution that Americans actually elect delegates to the body and not directly chose the next president and the vice president at the voting booth.
The Electoral College -- the body that formally votes after Nov. 8 to elect the president and vice president -- consists of 538 ordinary citizens who are very politically active.
Each state receives a number of delegates, depending on the number of congressional representatives in that state. Each of the 50 states has two senators and a number of representatives in the House of Representatives, depending on the size of its population.
Washington DC, which normally has no representation in Congress, has three electoral votes.
But the most interesting part of the Electoral College may be that delegates are not bound to vote for the presidential candidates for which they are chosen to vote.
Due to that reason, the Electoral College system is more than a simple formality than it appears.
"The electors who go to vote in the Electoral College are not actually required by law to vote for who they have been sent to vote for," George Washington University Law Professor Neil Buchanan told Anadolu Agency. "So, this is very, very, much not a democratic system."
Buchanan said the reason lies with the early roots of American history of democracy and the Constitution, when it was a new concept to the world. There was a lot of distrust by political elites in the ability of regular people to understand politics and to vote.
A group of politically active citizens has since decided the fate of the country.
Although this type of indirect democracy seems like a disadvantage to the people's will, there are also some advantages to the system, according to Buchanan.
"Imagine that you are an elector for New York and you have been sent to the Electoral College to vote for the candidate that New York voted for. But you know maybe things have come out since Election Day. For one reason or another, you know that this person should not be the president. Then the way the Constitution is written you are allowed to vote your conscience rather than to vote for the person that the people voted for,” he said.
The Constitution does not always "guarantee that the people's choices will win," according to Buchanan.
A candidate needs a simple majority of 270 electoral votes -- half of the total delegates plus one -- in order to be elected president.
Most states have a "winner-take-all" system, in which all delegates are awarded to the candidate who wins that state.
In the event the Electoral College ends in a 269 split, the president would be elected by the House of Representatives. The Senate would elect the vice president.
If that were to happen during the 2016 election, “it would be almost certain the Republican would win", according to Buchanan, because both wings of Congress are currently led by the Republican Party.
“Thirty-three of the 50 states currently have more Republicans than Democrats in their delegations to the House of Representatives,” he said.
If the Electoral College votes are split, another advantage for Republicans would be to win the smaller states that have much more influence on the House's voting than bigger states.
In that case, representatives from each state vote as a group to determine what its state's vote would be. For instance, the vote by Montana's one representative in the House counts the same as 53 representatives from California.
If a party wins the majority, electors will meet in each state to vote for the next president and the vice president on Dec. 19.
Congress would then count the electoral votes during a joint session on Jan. 6, where the vice president would announce the results.
On Jan. 20, the newly elected president will take the oath of office.