Electoral College: Origins, Purpose, and Structure

Topic: Government
Words: 564 Pages: 2

The US Constitution provides the opportunity for the citizens to choose the candidates for governmental positions. In some elections, candidates are chosen directly by the number of people voting. However, selecting the President and Vice President is associated with another complicated process executed through the governmental body called Electoral College. It consists of 538 members at this moment (What is the Electoral College, 2019). This body intended to provide small states with the equal opportunity to participate in elections and have their votes considered. The Electoral College aims to ensure the compromise between those who support the popular vote and those who consider Congress as the main elective body.

Electoral College elector’s number depends on how many state representatives sit in the US Congress, which, in turn, is proportional to the population of each state. The Founding Fathers implemented such a structure in 1787 in order to balance the Congress and Popular votes (What is the Electoral College, 2019). For example, there are two senators and twenty-seven members from New York State (What is the Electoral College, 2019). This means that this state can send 29 electors to the College (What is the Electoral College, 2019). The most populous American state, California, has 55 electors, while North Dakota has only three (What is the Electoral College, 2019). A presidential candidate who wins even with a minimal advantage in a particular state automatically takes the votes of all electors on a winner-take-all basis. In order to eventually become president, candidates need to enlist the support of at least 270 members of the Electoral College.

Some critics believe that the Electoral College should be abolished because it allows the significant risk of unfair judgment. A candidate who received the majority of popular voters may get fewer electoral votes and ultimately lose. As a result, the whole democracy in the country is under question. As a rule, electors represent the political party from which the presidential candidate is nominated, so they are expected to vote according to their party affiliation. However, no single federal law would oblige them to do this. The electors voting contrary to their obligations are called unfair. Unscrupulous electors are prosecuted by the law in only 29 states, while in 21 states, their choice is not limited. The positive aspect of the Electoral College is that it allows the balancing of voting powers of the ordinary people and Congress. There were not enough precedents for abolishing this system entirely.

Electors are the representatives of the candidates for presidents from a particular group called slate. Originally people should be chosen by the party’s central committee to be a part of the Electoral College (What is the Electoral College, 2019). Electors often stand for active political activities, extreme political views, or particular achievements. Usually, these people have an affiliation with the candidate of a particular party. That is why electors usually serve on behave of the party they represent.

Thus, the Electoral College is a governmental body regulating the electoral functioning process. It aims at fair elections and the balance of the voting powers of all the states and mandates. There are both pros and cons of such system implementation. Today the Electoral College is unlikely to be dissolved because there is not enough negative situation in its history. Even though there is a chance of unfair judgment, this system contributes to democracy in voting.


What is the Electoral College? (2019). National Archives. Web.

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