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EXPLAINER | Why a US presidential candidate can lose the popular vote and still become president

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Voters cast their ballots for the 2020 US Elections at an offical ballot drop box on a sidewalk in Los Angeles.
Voters cast their ballots for the 2020 US Elections at an offical ballot drop box on a sidewalk in Los Angeles.
Frederic J Brown, AFP

Only five of the US' 45 presidents over its 244 year history have won the electoral college but lost the popular vote.

These include two of the last three presidents, including incumbent president Donald Trump. 

This is because, unlike South Africa, the US makes use of an electoral college system to elect the president, whereby each state, or province, is awarded a set number of electoral college members that vote for the president. 

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