The Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between election of the president by Congress and election by popular vote. Americans actually vote for the electors who then vote for the President.
The term “electoral college” actually does not appear in the U.S. Constitution and was derived from the concept of electors used by the Roman empire. However, in the early 1800’s the term “electoral college” came into general usage as the unofficial designation for the group of citizens selected to cast votes for President and Vice President. It was later written into Federal law in 1845.
Each state gets a number of electors equal to its number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives plus one for each of its two U.S. Senators.