Description: This report focuses on the institutions and procedures associated with the contemporary electoral college system. It opens by noting four rarely occurring electoral college eventualities that took place in connection with the 2016 presidential election. These included the election of a President and Vice President who received fewer popular votes than their major opponents; the actions of seven "faithless electors," who voted for candidates other than those to whom they were pledged; the split allocation of electoral votes in Maine, which uses the district system to choose its electors; and challenges to electoral votes in the joint session of Congress at which they are counted. The report also examines the constitutional origins of the electoral college system and identifies the additional components and processes that are the product of federal and state law, party requirements, and political tradition, explaining their role in presidential elections. It provides a timeline for operation of the electoral college system for the 2020 presidential election, a brief examination of alternative reform measures, including constitutional amendment proposals and non-governmental initiatives, such as the National Popular Vote initiative1 (NPV), and closes with concluding observations on the state of the electoral college system and prospects for change.
Date: May 15, 2017
Creator: Neale, Thomas H.
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department