That's not how it works. That's the version for the infant civics classes.
It works on bribing sufficient numbers of the voters with the minimum required to get their votes. Which is a very convoluted and confusing process and if expertly applied it results in something near a tie. Like NFL rules are intended to do.
Bribing the required number with too much makes any promises too difficult to carry out and bribing them with just enough is spun rhetorically to make it seem more than it is.
The rhetoric has to be purchased from TV, radio and newspaper moguls and corporations with cash collected from various sources which is essentially a bet on the outcome involving stitching together both local and national coalitions whose main hope is to be granted the right to ambush the rest.
With local variations in tradition, racial mix, boundary fixing and economic activity added to make the concoction spicier, and the purity of the candidates consciences for a topping, one might easily say, knowing the subtle nature of all the above, that convoluted and confusing is a gross understatement.
And that's just the final. The knock-out stages are mysterious.
It only looks simple to those with the sort of simple mind that can't imagine anything beyond its own limitations.
At the risk of implying that your description of the process is somewhat convoluted and confusing, I think the following breakdown can be helpful:
Candidate Jones promises voters the services, policies and outcomes he believes they want in return for their casting their votes for him to serve as their nation's executive or one of their representatives in Congress.
Voters, who find what Jones is promising to be attractive, cast their votes for him.
If his promises attract more voters than do those of his opponents, he wins.
I think that's a fairly accurate description of a pretty simple concept.
That it's far more difficult to achieve than it is to describe doesn't belie its simplicity.
It is essentially the same process that has been in place since the birth of the nation. As the complexity of American society has increased, naturally has the mosaic of voter interests and desires became more complex, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the process of determining what promises will be found sufficiently attractive to the voters has become convoluted and confusing as a result.
Likewise, the means available to a candidate to communicate his promises to the voters have increased and grown more varied over the decades and so today's candidate communication plan will naturally be more complex than that of his predecessor in the 19th century, who had only personal appearances and limited newspaper coverage to consider. There is actually no shortage of campaign professionals who do not find establishing a communication plan for their boss to be convoluted or confusing, and I'm quite sure the average voter would not find the plan to be either as well.
While it's true that the Electoral College process is not instantly comprehensible to those who hear of it for the first time, most fairly intelligent people can grasp it well enough in a short period of time. More aptly though, the process is based on logical premises and clearly not intended as a means to circumvent inconvenient election results.
I'm hardly claiming that the US has the best
election system in the world and since it depends heavily on both bureaucrats and volunteers, moments of confusion are assured, but I can't think of a clearly superior method or even one that is substantially different than that described in the earlier breakdown.
Of course I appreciate the differences between the parliamentary and presidential systems, but I'm not seeking to the compare the two systems here. I'm referring to the transaction of voting and I don't imagine UK candidates for office are seeking a bargain substantially different from their American counterparts. Still, I'm not expert on UK elections and if I need education in that regard, I'm certainly open to it.