The Electoral College   
was the subject for our speaker at our last Zoom meeting  ,Stephen Marantelli ā€“ 
In the course of Stephen's presentation, we got  an insight into what is going on in the United States at the moment in the lead up to the Presidential Elections in November, and perhaps a little insight also into the strengths and tensions in the long established Australia-United States relationship.
The Electoral College is a complete mystery to most Australians with our Westminister style of parliamentary democracy. And yet it is the very mechanism by which the President of the United States is elected. Stephen Marantelli is a barrister. He has a passion for American history, in particular, the history of the presidency. The nature and trend of the American-Australian alliance is better understood in the light of that history. A successful author, Stephen's imaginative and thought provoking book recounts an imaginary meeting in London between Edmund Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister, and George Washington, the First President of the United States.
When all is said and done, it's the Electoral College vote ā€” not the popular vote ā€” that decides the presidency. Some states are considering legislation that essentially bypasses the Electoral College. Should New Hampshire join in?
The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors from the all of the states. New Hampshire has four of those electors.  In most states, the candidate who wins the popular vote in a state wins the electors. The candidate who wins the most electors nationally wins the presidency.
A handful of other states have implemented other ways of distributing their electoral college votes. In Maine and Nebraska, for example, electoral college votes are distributed based on who won the popular vote in each of the states' congressional districts. 
The Electoral College and the popular vote
In the 2000 presidential election, Democrat Al Gore received 50,999,897 votes; Republican George Bush received 50,456,002. In the Electoral College count, however, Bush tallied 271 electors to Gore's 266.  Bush became the president. A similar situation arose sixteen years later, when Democrat Hilary Clinton received 65,853,514 votes to Republican Donald Trump's 62,984,828, but Trump carried the electoral college by 304 to Clinton's 227. 
Because of these results, some states have been passing legislation agreeing to the National Popular Vote interstate compact. States that join the compact agree to award their Electoral College votes to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally, not the candidate who wins the state, once the compact has reached enough members to constitute an electoral majority.
According to the National Popular Vote website(link is external), twelve states and Washington, D.C. have passed National Popular Vote legislation, totalling 181 electors.
Faithless elector laws
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that binds electors to vote for the candidate who won their state's popular vote. Though it is rare, electors have occasionally opted to instead vote for a candidate of their own choosing. 
Twenty-eight states have passed laws that legally require electors to vote for a particular candidate, such as the winner of the state's popular vote. Punishments for breaking the law vary from subjecting the faithless elector to a fine or disqualifying them and replacing them with a backup elector. So far, these laws have not been enforced or tested in court.