Electoral College

Electoral College The framer’s intent of setting up the American Government will never be know for sure, but it is gathered that they preferred a republic over a democracy. In the constitutional convention the drafters had to decide how much power they would entrust with the people of the United States, and how much should be controlled by representatives. They chose to have Congress Make the laws, and congress would be selected directly by the people. But another branch of government, the executive branch, needed a sole president and the framers had to decide how to choose this president. They chose from three main systems: elect the president by congress, the people, or electors.

The electoral college system has been in place for over 200 years and Americans are still not sure how it works or if it is the best system. Many Americans feel they go to the polls every year and vote for the president, and in the long run they are in control of the fate of our executive branch. This third system was to have electors that could not be a member of congress vote for the president. The elector system was voted down twice, once as the electors to be chosen by state legislatures, and the other time as the electors to be chosen by direct vote. Finally it was passed under the system of letting state legislature decide how to choose the electors. Another compromise had to be made about how many electors each state would have.

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This was agreed upon by the electors equaling the total of the states representatives and senators. States went three main routes in choosing electors: the legislative system, where state legislatures choose the electors; a district system, where electors are selected by the people of each congressional district; and the general ticket, or a winner-take-all system, where a popular vote was held in the entire state, and the winner took all electoral votes. Many have tried to reform by making a more uniform system state by state, but the constitution is very clear that it is each state’s own decision of how to choose electors. The legislative system eventually failed because of too much bargaining, promises, and payoffs. The district system eventually lost popularity because it encourages third parties. This left the general ticket system as the dominating system.

However, the framers originally intended electors to be chosen by the people and then vote for what they thought was best. There are two states that still use the district system, but the remaining 48 states use the general ticket system. Most all states no longer show the electors’ names on the ballot. The voter votes for either the president or the party that they wish to hold office. This causes a problem of the unfaithful elector. Electors are expected to ratify the people’s choice by voting for candidates winning the popular election.

Electors that do not vote for what they are expected to vote for are considered faithless or unfaithful electors. This has not traditionally been a problem in the history of the electoral college but it could possibly be a problem. Less than 1% of electors have ever misrepresented their community. 26 states do not require an elector to vote for what they have pledged to vote for by state law. Although these states are still considered under the general ticket system.

Basically the electoral college system works like this today. Every ten years the census figures adjusts how many representatives each state has. This number plus two, representing the two senators, equals how many electors each state has. Also, DC has 3 electors. Then each state has the right to decide how to select these electors.

Forty eight states use the general ticket system, two, Maine and Nebraska, use the district system. The general ticket system is suppose to operate as follows. There is a direct vote election held in each state and the winner of the vote is suppose to get all of that states electoral votes. In Maine and Nebraska there is an election held in each congressional district. The winner of every district gets one electoral vote, and the candidate with the most electoral votes gets the remaining two electoral votes.

Then all of the votes are counted, and if a candidate gets more than half the votes, he/she becomes the new president. If there is no majority then the election gets thrown into the House of Representatives. There each state is given one vote and they vote on the top three candidates. if a candidate gets a majority vote, the he/she becomes president. .


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