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. This was

agreed upon by the electors equaling the total of the states representatives and


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


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