If you took a poll of voting Americans, most would probably say that they actually voted for the President. What they don’t realize is that they actually voted for electors – individuals who vote for the electoral college. They didn’t actually vote directly for the President.
How does this process work? The total electoral vote, and not the popular vote, actually decides the elections. There is a total of 538 electoral votes in the country. Excluding the chance of having a third-party candidate, one of the two main candidates needs to get at least 270 total electoral votes to be elected as the President.
When you vote in your states, you’re actually voting towards your electoral votes. Alabama, for instance, has 9 electoral votes while California has 54. Each state’s electoral votes are determined by the relative size of the state’s population. If the majority of the citizens who vote in Alabama vote for the democratic candidate, then he gets all 9 of those electoral votes.