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The Electoral College. Government - Libertyville HS. EC Basics. What is it? Constitutional means of selecting the president Why was it set up? To avoid the direct election of the President, by the people. Alternatives to EC Considered. Congress choose President For? Against

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The Electoral College

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The electoral college
The Electoral College

Government - Libertyville HS


Ec basics
EC Basics

  • What is it?

    • Constitutional means of selecting the president

  • Why was it set up?

    • To avoid the direct election of the President, by the people


Alternatives to ec considered
Alternatives to EC Considered

  • Congress choose President

    • For?

    • Against

      • Too divisive of a decision for Congress to make

      • Too much political influence, bargaining, corruption possible

      • Separation of powers problem

      • Balance of power within government problem


Alternatives to ec considered1
Alternatives to EC Considered

  • State legislatures choose President

    • For?

    • Against

      • President would owe the states, big time

      • Federal (National) power would be compromised / eroded


Alternatives to ec considered2
Alternatives to EC Considered

  • Citizens directly elect the President

    • For?

    • Against

      • Regional “favorite son” fear (info debt)

      • Insufficient regional support for FS to lead country

      • Fear of demagogue

      • Small states disadvantaged (low pop)


Process of ec 1789 const
Process of EC – 1789 Const.

  • States cast votes for President based on size of congressional delegation (Reps + Senators)

  • Whichever candidate received majority of ECV = President

  • Second highest vote getter = VP

  • If no majority, to House

    • Each state = 1 vote

    • Majority state votes = Pres.

    • 2nd highest vote getter = VP

    • If tie for VP, Senate votes


Process of ec 1789 const1
Process of EC – 1789 Const.

Remember: System designed with NO POLITICAL PARTIES OR NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS invented or designed!


Development of ec
Development of EC

  • Election of 1800

    • Jefferson, Burr (D-Rs) tied in ECV (Burr supposed to be VP)

    • Vote went to House (lame duck Fed)

    • Hamilton (Fed) threw election for Jefferson

    • Burr became VP


12 th amendment 1804
12th Amendment (1804)

  • Amendment required ONE vote for President and ONE vote for VP

  • If no candidate received absolute majority of ECV, House vote on top 3 contenders

    • Each state = 1 vote

    • Abs. majority = president

  • Senate would follow same procedure for VP

  • Note: Direct election not considered – why not?


Choosing electors for ec on election day
Choosing Electors for EC on Election Day

  • All states have direct election of their electors by popular vote of entire state

    • Ds select their slate

    • GOP select their slate

  • “Winner Take All” trend

    • 48 / 50 states give all ECV of state to party that gets majority popular vote of that state

    • Maine, Nebraska use variation of PR system


Election day
Election Day

  • 1845: Congress adopted a uniform day for election of electors

  • Tuesday, following the first Monday, in November

  • In years divisible by four

  • Electors gather in Dec. in state Capitols to vote

  • Votes counted Jan 8th and result announced to joint session of Congress

  • President of Senate counts votes


Successes of electoral college
Successes of Electoral College

  • Peaceable and orderly transfer of power, without public uprisings, through all 220+ years of Const.

  • President must obtain sufficient popular vote (not a majority)

  • Pop vote must be distributed across country

  • Federalism preserved (50+1 elections)


Problems with electoral college
Problems with Electoral College

  • Faithless electors

  • Winner take all selection of electors in states

  • Votes in small states “weigh” more

  • Popular vote winner could lose

  • Election could go to House


Proposed reforms
Proposed Reforms

  • Get rid of it

    • Direct election of President

    • Criticism?

  • Proportional Plan

    • Each candidate receives same share of ECV as (s)he received PV of state

    • Criticism?

  • District Plan

    • Electors would be chosen in each congressional district, who would vote according to that district’s PV

    • 2 electors elected statewide

    • Criticism?


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