Can I Become An Elector? You'd Have To Be Chosen In One Of Two Ways
"The system is rigged!" says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, "I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest," says he. This vague assault on the American electoral process could potentially take many dark, imaginative forms. But how does he know what he so honestly confesses? There are many complicated rabbit holes to burrow down in trying to understand what election policy he could possibly be referring to that he believes is conspiratorially against him, and one place to start is the electoral college. How does the electoral college work — and can you be an elector?
An elector is someone who is part of the electoral college — the political body that's selected to formally elect the president and vice president. Guidelines for choosing electors are on a state-by-state basis. Each state decides its process for selecting its electors. The electoral selection comes down to Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. constitution, which dictates how many electors there should be in each election:
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 Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
It's a fancy way of saying each state gets a certain number of electors based on the population in that state, according to the census that happens every 10 years. Since 1964, there have consistently been 538 electors in each presidential election. No matter what state though, for the most part, the decision of appointing specific electors comes down to two ways these electors are chosen: Either the person is nominated, usually because of being a loyal party member for many years, or sometime they fill spots based on a vote held at the party's convention.
You specifically can't be an elector if you are a member of Congress, especially not one who is potentially seeking an appointment to executive office, or someone who has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the United States. So, you know, keep an eye on that.