How Do You Become An Elector? The Process Isn't As Easy As You May Think

The electoral college is a confusing process. On its face, it seems pretty unfair: 538 electors, individuals selected before the election, ultimately cast ballots for who will become president and vice president of the United States. In practice, the system is much more fair and balanced, but it would still be pretty cool to count yourself as one of the handful of U.S. citizens who get to "decide" the election. If you want to become an elector, however, know the process is more complex than just a random draw.

Let me back up and make something clear: electors are expected to cast their vote in accordance to how the state votes. Your vote on election day actually determines which candidates receive particular electors from a state, so it's not as if the electors can go rogue and vote for whoever they want to win. Or, well, it's not supposed to be like that. In 1876, there was a wild election between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden that saw four states send their own set of electors to Washington in protest of the outcome. Normally, however, that is not the case.

Electors are selected before the general vote, and they only become official electors if the ticket to which they are "pledged" wins the popular vote within their specific jurisdiction. For example, if you've been named an elector-candidate in a state and are pledged to the Clinton-Kaine ticket, but Trump-Pence wins in the state, you won't be an elector for the state.


To become an elector, though, you need to have a fair amount of political clout. The process varies according to the state, but as The Huffington Post points out, electors are usually named at state conventions, and they typically are "state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the Presidential candidates."

So if you want to become an elector, you'll probably need to be involved in your chosen party beforehand. After all, elected officials and people who are voted into office in a particular party should be representative of the party's general interest, so there won't be a repeat of the absurd 1876 election. If you can see yourself becoming an elector, dream big, run for office, or, at the very least, become really involved with party politics to be one of the 538 people who officially cast votes for the presidency.