The Electoral College was founded as one of the four major compromises within the United States Constitution, founded in 1787. The founding fathers were at an impasse on the decision of who ultimately obtained the power of choosing the president- the citizens or the leaders in Congress? At the time, the creators of the Constitution heavily feared a dictatorship rule, having just obtained freedom from their former colony ruler and motherland, Great Britain, so they did not want a system that could potentially overpower the government with the slightest majority. To minimize this risk, they established a separation of powers with the various branches of government in another constitutional compromise to balance out how the government would function and delegate powers accordingly.
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To avoid the possible blow of majority-swayed elections, they created the Electoral College as a compromise between an election of the president by a popular vote of competent citizens and an election of the president through a congressional vote.
There are five hundred and thirty-eight total members that make up the Electoral College. Chosen from the loyal supporters in either of the two respected parties, potential members are hand-picked by the party of every candidate. The number of electors has evolved over time to meet the number of members of Congress, with the addition of three electors for the District of Columbia, who is treated as a state in this instance for representative purposes. These electors are split up between the fifty states. The number of electors allocated to a state is dependent the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for every stater’s two senators. With theU.S census renewed every ten years, if a state gains or loses enough population, it can also gain or lose congressional seats, therefore gaining or losing electoral votes.
As stated in the Constitution, a qualified elector must not hold any office under the United States government. State laws can vary on the specifics of how potential electors are chosen, but the political parties of the presidential candidates for each state either nominate or vote on their slate of electors for said candidate. Commonly, chosen electors are long-standing, loyal party members who they believe will vote true to their party affiliate. This is because they want to reduce the possibility of a faithless elector, if they can help it. In short, every presidential candidate has their own group of potential electors chosen by their political party that will ideally stay true to their word and vote for that candidate if they win the vote in November.
While almost all electors vote in accordance to the majority vote of their state, they are not always inclined to do so. There have been 157 electors in American history that did not vote in accordance with the stater’s vote- but this is not necessarily illegal.
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