The Electoral College


The electoral college has long since become a sort of vermiform appendix in the American body politic. Its function is all but anachronistic — but it can still cause deadly trouble.

The President and Vice-President of the United States are the only elective Federal officials not elected by direct vote of the people. They are elected by the members of the Electoral College, an institution that has survived since the founding of the nation despite more than 100 attempts in Congress to alter or abolish it.

On Presidential election day, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every fourth year, each state elects as many electors as it has Senators and Representatives in Congress, with the present 100 Senators and 435 Representatives there are 530 members of the Electoral College, with a majority of 266 electoral votes needed to elect the President and Vice-President. Political parties customarily nominatetheir lists of electors at their respective state conventions.An elector cannot be a member of Congress or any person holding Federal office.

Some states print the names of the candidates for Presidentident at the top of the ballot while others list only the names of the-electors. In either case, the electors of the party receiving the highest vote are elected. The electors meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday  in December in their respective state capitals or in some other place prescribed by State Legislatures. By long-established custom they vote for their party nominee, thus giving all the state’s electoral votes to him, although the Constitution does not require them to doso. The only constitutional requirement is that at least one of the men the electors choose for President and Vice-President shall not be an inhabitant of the same state as they are.

Certified copies of the votes of the electors are mailed to the president of the U.S. Senate. The Senate and the House. sit as one body on January 6 to count the electoral votes of all the states. If no candidate for President has a majority, the House of Representatives chooses a President from among the three highest candidates, with all Representatives froin each state combining to cast one vote for that state. If no candidate for Vice-President has a majority, the Senate chooses from the top two, Senators voting as individuals.