A Page from Our Book

Page 10 – US Electoral College Different from Others

Although the original Electoral College precisely fits the dictionary definition of an electoral college, it was designed to be very different in practice than any electoral college that was known at the time. Other electoral colleges were designed to allow the aristocracy (in conjunction with the clergy) to select a new king in an elective monarchy. The electors therefore were chosen by their position and whoever held that position at the death of the old king was an elector to choose the new king regardless of personal merit or individual ability. Being an elector was just part of their job.

In contrast to the common model of electors and electoral colleges, presidential Electors in the United States are only appointed for a temporary assignment. These special delegates were not to be part of government. The Constitution expressly forbids Senators, Representatives, government officials or employees (a “person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States”) from holding the office of an Elector. The spirit of these explicit instructions would also prohibit any individual under the influence of the general government from being an Elector. We explain the importance of this as we detail the particulars of the original Electoral College.

One other difference should be noted here. In other electoral colleges, the whole election process was in the hands of the electors. In the model designed by the Framers, only the nomination function of the election was turned over to the Electors—who were not part of government. Various government bodies were to handle the rest of the election process.

– The Original Electoral College