The Constitution – Article 2 – The Executive Branch
Section 1 – The President
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He
shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President
chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of
Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be
entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust
or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
(The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons,
of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And
they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each;
which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government
of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the
Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the
Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest
Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole
Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority,
and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall
immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a
Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse
the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the
Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall
consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the
States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President,
the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice
President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate
shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice-President.) (This clause in parentheses was
superseded by the 12th Amendment.)
Amendment 12:
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President
and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same
state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as
President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they
shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons
voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they

shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the
United States, directed to the President of the Senate;…T

Page 201 America: A Narrative History (2 nd Edition)
“To preserve the separation of the three branches, the president would be elected not by the
Congress but by “electors” chosen by “the people” in local elections. The number of “electors” in each
state would vary depending upon the combined number of congressional representatives and U.S.
Senators. This “Electoral College” was a compromise between those wanting the president elected by a
vote in Congress and those preferring election by a popular vote of qualified citizens.”

“The Framers were wary of giving the people the power to directly elect the President —
some felt the citizenry too beholden to local interests, too easily duped by promises or
shenanigans, or simply because a national election, in the time of oil lamps and quill
pens, was just impractical. Some proposals gave the power to the Congress, but this
did not sit well with those who wanted to see true separation of the branches of the new
government. Still others felt the state legislatures should decide, but this was thought to
make the President too beholden to state interests. The Electoral College, proposed by
James Wilson, was the compromise that the Constitutional Convention reached…
The Electoral College insulates the election of the President from the people by having
the people elect not the person of the President, but the person of an Elector who is
pledged to vote for a specific person for President. Though the ballot may read "John
McCain" or "Barack Obama," you're really voting for "John Smith" who is a McCain
supporter or "Jack Jones" who is an Obama supporter.”
Today, the day of choosing the electors is set at the first Tuesday after the first Monday
in November, and the date the Electors meet is set at the first Monday following the
second Wednesday in December — in 2008, these dates are November 4 and
December 15. These dates are set in the US Code, at 3 USC 7.
In most states, the winner of the state election gets all of the state's electoral votes. In
two states, Maine and Nebraska, however, the winner of the state only gets two votes,
one representing each Senator. The other electoral votes are distributed according to
the winner of each congressional district in the state.
That's the process. Electors are chosen by the states and the Electors elect the
President and Vice-President.

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