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Most Americans support using the popular vote to decide U.S. presidents, data shows

In this Jan. 20, 2001, file photo, standing in the rain, President George W. Bush waves as he watches his inaugural parade pass by the White House viewing stand in Washington, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2001. With him are his wife and first lady Laura Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush.
STEPHAN SAVOIA
/
AP
In this Jan. 20, 2001, file photo, standing in the rain, President George W. Bush waves as he watches his inaugural parade pass by the White House viewing stand in Washington, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2001. With him are his wife and first lady Laura Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush.

Most Americans support using the popular vote and not the electoral college vote to select a president, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

About 63% of Americans support using the popular vote, compared to 35% who would rather keep the electoral college system.

Approval for the popular vote is up from January 2021, when 55% of Americans said they back the change; 43% supported keeping the electoral college at that time.

Opinions on the systems varied sharply according to political party affiliation. 80% of Democrats approve of moving to a popular vote system, while 42% of Republicans support the move. Though, many more Republicans support using the popular vote system now than after the 2016 election, when support was at 27%.

There is also an age divide: 7 out of 10 Americans from ages 18 to 29 support using the popular vote, compared to 56% in Americans over 65 years old.

There have been five presidents who won the electoral vote, but not the popular vote — John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

There are 538 electors, one for each U.S. senator and U.S. representative, plus three for Washington, D.C., which gets three electoral votes in the presidential election even though it has no voting representation in Congress.

The number of electors has changed through history as the number of elected members of Congress has changed with the country's expansion and population growth.

How electors get picked varies by state, but in general state parties file slates of names for who the electors will be. They include people with ties to those state parties, like current and former party officials, state lawmakers and party activists. They're selected either at state party conventions or by party central committees.

The Pew survey was conducted from June 27 to July 4 of this year.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie