Electoral College Procedures
After the general election in November, the executive of each state and the District of Columbia is responsible for sending the "Certificate of Ascertainment," also referred to as the "Certificate of Determination," to the Archivist of the United States. This certificate officially proclaims the slate of electors chosen by the voters.
The Governor signs the certificate and embosses it with the seal of the state. The Governor is responsible for preparing seven original Certificates of Ascertainment, one for the United States Archivist and six for use by the state electors at the December meeting. The National Archives and Records Administration must receive this certificate before the meeting of the Electoral College.
The Electoral College does not meet as a single national body. As mandated by Congress, the electors must gather in their respective states on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December and cast their ballots for president and vice president. In most states electors meet in the capitol building.
The 12th Amendment to the Constitution mandates that electors must cast two separate ballots, one for president and one for vice president. The electors' vote is recorded on the "Certificate of Vote."
All presidential and vice presidential candidates receiving electoral votes, as well as the number of electoral votes each received, appear on the Certificate of Vote. Candidates who do not receive any electoral votes, regardless of their popular vote, are not listed.
The Electoral College of every state must prepare six original Certificates of Vote. All electors must sign a sheet attached to each certificate. The Certificates of Ascertainment provided by the Governor are attached to the Certificates of Vote and each set is sealed inside an envelope.
The electors certify the six sets by signing the outside of each envelope. Using registered mail, a state's Electoral College sends two sets of certificates to the Archivist of the United States, two sets to the state's Secretary of State, one to the President of the United States Senate, and one to the chief Federal judge of the district in which the electors voted.
If the National Archives and Records Administration does not receive a state's certificates within nine days of the Electoral College vote, the President of the Senate or Archivist of the United States contacts the state's Secretary of State and requests the immediate transmission of the certificates by registered mail.
At the same time, a special messenger is dispatched to retrieve the certificates held by the Federal District judge and carries them by hand to Washington. The fine for not delivering the certificates is $1,000.
On the sixth of January, the President of the United States Senate, who is also the Vice President of the United States, counts the Electoral College votes before a joint session of Congress. The candidates require a majority of electoral votes to become president and vice president.
If no candidate for president receives a majority then, according to the 12th amendment, the House chooses from the top three vote-getters with each state having one vote. A similar process works if none of the candidates for vice president gets a majority, except the Senate selects only from the top two candidates.