Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Thomas H. Neale. October 6, 2017
The electoral college method of electing the President and Vice President was established in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and revised by the Twelfth Amendment. It provides for election of the President and Vice President by electors, commonly referred to as the electoral college. A majority of 270 of the 538 electoral votes is necessary to win.
The electoral college has been the subject of criticism and proposals for reform since before 1800. Constitutional and structural criticisms have centered on several of its features: (1) although today all electors are chosen by the voters in the presidential election, it is claimed to be not fully democratic, since it provides indirect election of the President; (2) it can lead to the election of candidates who win the electoral college but fewer popular votes than their opponents, or to contingent election in Congress if no candidate wins an electoral college majority; (3) it results in electoral vote under- and over-representation for some states between censuses; and (4) “faithless” electors can vote for candidates other than those they were elected to support.
Legislative and political criticisms include (1) the general ticket system, currently used in all states except Maine and Nebraska, which is alleged to disenfranchise voters who prefer the losing candidates in the states; (2) various asserted “biases” that are alleged to favor different states and groups; and (3) the electoral college “lock,” which has been claimed to provide an electoral college advantage to both major parties at different times.
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