The Electoral College: How It Works In Contemporary Presidential Elections

The Electoral College: How It Works In Contemporary Presidential Elections

The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections

When Americans vote for President and Vice President, they are actually choosing presidential electors, known collectively as the electoral college. It is these officials who choose the President and Vice President of the United States. The complex elements comprising the electoral college system are responsible for one of the most important processes of the American political and constitutional system: election of the President and Vice President. A failure to elect, or worse, the choice of a chief executive whose legitimacy might be open to question, could precipitate a profound constitutional crisis that would require prompt, judicious, and well-informed action by Congress. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, as amended in 1804 by the 12th Amendment, sets forth the requirements for election of the President and Vice President. It authorizes each state to appoint, by whatever means the legislature chooses, a number of electors equal to the combined total of its Senate and House of Representatives delegations, for a contemporary total of 538, including three electors for the District of Columbia. Since the Civil War, the states have universally provided for popular election of the presidential electors. Anyone may serve...

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