The Role of the Electoral College

The Electoral College is the process established by the founding fathers that takes place during presidential elections in the United States.

It was initially stated in the U.S. constitution and served as a compromise to allow both the Congress and the citizens to take part in the voting process. The Electoral College consists of a group of people representing the country who were chosen to formally cast a vote for the future president and vice president. 

Who chooses the Electoral College?

A two-part process is used in order to select the members of the Electoral College. Political parties in each state nominate the candidates they would prefer as electors and then political party leaders cast their votes.

Elector nominees are usually made up of state party leaders, state elected officials or anyone who has a personal or political affiliation with their party’s Presidential candidate. 

The second part of the selection process is up to the general public. Voters who cast their ballots on Election Day for presidential and government officials are essentially choosing the electors who will place a vote on their behalf.

Each presidential candidate has a group of electors who may or may not also be listed on the ballot.

Certain states list electors on the ballots depending on their type of voting system. The states that list electors include Idaho, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Dakota, Arizona, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

The Electoral College Voting Process

The Electoral College contains a total of 538 electors, which includes the nation’s 435 representatives, 100 senators, and 3 electors given to the District of Columbia.

Each member of the Electoral College that is chosen by the general public meets in their state capitol to cast their vote for the presidential candidates. In order for a candidate to be elected as president, they must earn a majority of 270 electoral votes. 

Electoral votes are divided between each state based on the number of representatives each state has in Congress.

Even though neither the constitution nor federal election laws require electors to vote for their party’s candidate, it is rare for them not to do so. Candidates who lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College vote are automatically elected into office. In the event that neither of the presidential candidates receives the majority of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives will then determine the election. Each state is allowed to cast one vote and whichever candidate receives the majority of the state votes wins the presidency.