Why Do Electors Vote For The President? The System Stems From A Compromise

One would think that when it comes to voting for the President of the United States, it would be easy. Yes, it's pretty simple to go to your local polling place and cast your vote, but that's not all there is to it. It's actually somewhat complicated. Even though the voting process is something most people learned in school, it's easy to forget how the system actually works. For example, you might be wondering why electors vote for the president. Basically, it's how it's been since the U.S. Constitution was created.

Electors are responsible for determining who will become the next POTUS. A candidate wins the popular vote in a state, then the electors of that state usually vote based on the popular vote winner. Each state is assigned a number of electors equal to its number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives in addition to one for each of its two U.S. Senators. The electors make up 538 votes and for a presidential candidate to win he/she must earn at least 270 of those electoral votes.

According to FactCheck.org, "The framers of the Constitution didn’t trust direct democracy," which is why there are electors. It is also considered a very old practice. "In modern practice, the Electoral College is mostly a formality," FactCheck.org notes. "Most electors are loyal members of the party that has selected them, and in 26 states, plus Washington, D.C., electors are bound by laws or party pledges to vote in accord with the popular vote." Though, there have been four instances where the electors chose a president who didn't win the popular vote, including John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000.


The Electoral College system, which consists of electors, was first established in Article II of the Constitution. According to the National Archives, "the founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens."

When it comes to the electors actually casting their vote, they meet in their respective states on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December (Dec. 19, 2016). It isn't until January (Jan. 6, 2017) that Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes.

The reason electors vote for the president is all thanks to the men who created the Constitution. One would think it might be easier, not to mention makes more sense, to just elect the next POTUS based on the popular vote, but apparently the founding fathers thought this makes a better voting system.