The Twelfth Amendment
As the Constitution was being drafted in the 1780’s there was controversy and disagreement about the process for electing a president. Should the American people elect a candidate by direct vote or should Congress choose the president?
Some argued that electing a president by popular vote would be disproportional in favor of states with large populations and high voter turnout. And if a third party or independent candidate received enough votes, neither of the other two would receive a simple majority of 51%. The thinking at the time was that the American people chose their Senators and Representatives in a direct election, so shouldn’t those men be trusted to choose a president qualified to be a lawmaker and commander-in-chief of the armed forces?
Voting for Electors
The electoral college is a group of 538 electors (435+100+3), and each state has a designated number of electors equal to their representation in Congress; a system that appeased the larger more populous states as well as the smaller states who are guaranteed 3 electoral votes (plus the District of Columbia has 3).
The candidates running for president each have their own group of electors. On the first Tuesday in November, voters make their choice for President and empower his or her electors to represent their vote. Within each state, when the number of electors is tallied up, the candidate with the higher number wins the electoral votes for that state. The candidate with 270+ electoral votes nationwide is the new or re-elected President.