Electoral CollegeThe framer’s intent of setting up the American Government will never beknow for sure, but it is gathered that they preferred a republic over ademocracy. In the constitutional convention the drafters had to decide how muchpower they would entrust with the people of the United States, and how muchshould be controlled by representatives. They chose to have Congress Make thelaws, and congress would be selected directly by the people. But another branchof government, the executive branch, needed a sole president and the framershad to decide how to choose this president.
They chose from three mainsystems: elect the president by congress, the people, or electors. The electoralcollege system has been in place for over 200 years and Americans are still notsure how it works or if it is the best system. Many Americans feel they go tothe polls every year and vote for the president, and in the long run they are incontrol of the fate of our executive branch. This third system was to have electors that could not be a member ofcongress vote for the president. The elector system was voted down twice, onceas the electors to be chosen by state legislatures, and the other time as theelectors to be chosen by direct vote. Finally it was passed under the system ofletting state legislature decide how to choose the electors.Order now
Another compromisehad to be made about how many electors each state would have. This wasagreed upon by the electors equaling the total of the states representatives andsenators. States went three main routes in choosing electors: the legislative system,where state legislatures choose the electors; a district system, where electors areselected by the people of each congressional district; and the general ticket, or awinner-take-all system, where a popular vote was held in the entire state, andthe winner took all electoral votes. Many have tried to reform by making a moreuniform system state by state, but the constitution is very clear that it is eachstate’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 itencourages third parties. This left the general ticket system as the dominatingsystem. However, the framers originally intended electors to be chosen by thepeople and then vote for what they thought was best. There are two states thatstill use the district system, but the remaining 48 states use the general ticketsystem.
Most all states no longer show the electors’ names on the ballot. The votervotes for either the president or the party that they wish to hold office. Thiscauses a problem of the unfaithful elector. Electors are expected to ratify thepeople’s choice by voting for candidates winning the popular election.
Electorsthat do not vote for what they are expected to vote for are considered faithlessor unfaithful electors. This has not traditionally been a problem in the history ofthe electoral college but it could possibly be a problem. Less than 1% ofelectors have ever misrepresented their community. 26 states do not require anelector to vote for what they have pledged to vote for by state law. Althoughthese states are still considered under the general ticket system. Basically the electoral college system works like this today.
Every tenyears the census figures adjusts how many representatives each state has. Thisnumber plus two, representing the two senators, equals how many electors eachstate has. Also, DC has 3 electors. Then each state has the right to decide howto select these electors.
Forty eight states use the general ticket system, two,Maine and Nebraska, use the district system. The general ticket system issuppose to operate as follows. There is a direct vote election held in each stateand the winner of the vote is suppose to get all of that states electoral votes. InMaine and Nebraska there is an election held in each congressional district. Thewinner of every district gets one electoral vote, and the candidate with the mostelectoral votes gets the remaining two electoral votes. Then all of the votes arecounted, and if a candidate gets more than half the votes, he/she becomes thenew president.
If there is no majority then the election gets thrown into theHouse of Representatives. There each state is given one vote and they vote onthe top three candidates. if a candidate gets a majority vote, the he/she becomespresident.