Right now, the winner is determined by the Electoral College process.
In general, states declare one winner and put all their electoral votes toward that candidate.
Illinois wants to go around that process and use the nationwide popular vote to elect the president.
For that to happen- things would have to get pretty dramatic next week.
WCIA 3'S Cynthia Schweigert puts the possibility of that new process in perspective.
To the relief of many, the ads, the arguing, and the negativity that comes with an election, is about to be over.
But, more than a month after we cast our ballots, on December 17th the Electoral College makes the real decision.
Brian Gaines is a political science professor at the U of I, he says this year there's speculation about whether electors and the voters will make the same choice.
"There's actually some chance it could split this year, so I think it's on people's minds and it could be decisive," he says.
Decisive, as in states deciding whether this system is a good one.
Right now, the general rule is that the electors give their votes to the candidate who wins their state. Illinois wants something different.
Our state is part of the National Popular Vote Plan.
It gives the people the power to elect.
"All of the states say they'll give their electors to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide as soon as sufficiently many states agree to do this that they collectively have the majority of the Electoral College- more than 270 electors," Gaines says.
Right now, that movement is about halfway there.
Gaines says so far, mostly states that lean towards Democrats have agreed to this but, he says if Mitt Romney wins the popular vote and loses the Electoral College vote, Republican states may jump on board.
"By 2016, 2020- if enough states were to join they would all essentially ignore their state winner and award their elector according to the national vote winner," says Gaines.
Gaines says it's unlikely, but as we know politics can surprise us.
You may remember the last time the popular vote clashed with the Electoral College vote was in 2000.