We can simply calculate each states electorates and see who wins. It just mean the relative power of each state. There is no reason to let real people gather and vote. Why not change the amendment?

1 Answer 1


Why were real Electors historically chosen?

The Founders' original intention was for the Electoral College to consist of people that were better educated than the average citizen. From The Federalist Papers, Number 68 (emphasis mine):

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

The same paper also stated that an Electoral College was desirable to prevent an unqualified candidate from winning.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.

Additionally, by having Electoral Colleges be per-state, Hamilton believed that a person who relied solely on "the little arts of popularity" could be influential in a state, but would ultimately be thwarted at the national level due to the education of the electors?

Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union[…]

If Electors today almost always vote for their state's popular vote, why keep them around?

Partly, it's a historical legacy. However, there are a couple of reasons why this is still kept:

  • If a candidate were incapacitated or killed before the Electoral College votes (on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December), the Electors can choose an alternative candidate. This happened in the 1872 election when Horace Greely died before the Electors cast their ballots.
  • If a patently unsuitable candidate won a state's popular vote, an Elector could vote for a different candidate if their state allows them to. Before dying, Horace Greely was committed to an asylum. Had he still been living at the time of the Electoral College vote, the Electors would have been permitted to choose an alternative candidate. Note that in the 2016 election, there are Electors who have publicly stated that they will vote against Donald Trump and vote against Hillary Clinton because they believe them to be unfit to be President.

In case you are wondering, a running mate does not become Vice President until the Electoral College votes. So if a presidential candidate dies before the Electoral College votes, the running mate does not automatically become President (unless the Electors choose to vote for them).

Generally, the reason real people are kept around for the Electoral College is to handle those "what if" situations. Rather than codifying every possibility, real people can make a decision to handle whatever happens.

  • They could just have a new election if the president dies. Hence no need also for vice president at all.
    – ronenfe
    Nov 9, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    @RonenFestinger There would have to be an act of Congress to call a new election because they are the ones that pick when an election happens. Article II, Clause 4 of the Constitution: "The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." Since there is a legal way to pick a candidate via the Electoral College, it would not be required to have a new election. Nov 9, 2016 at 17:12
  • Yes, but i'm saying there is no reason there won't be a majority to change the law so there will be new elections in that case in the future.
    – ronenfe
    Nov 9, 2016 at 19:21
  • @RonenFestinger The Twenty-Eighth Congress decided on January 23, 1845 how Election Day works: "That the electors of the President and Vice President shall be appointed in each State on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed". This clearly says that elections are held on that day for the purpose of selecting electors. If Congress wants to invalidate an election and pick a different day to select a different set of electors, they'll have to as a majority decide to do so (although doing so may be unconstitutional). Nov 9, 2016 at 19:31
  • They can make an ammendment to change the current election laws so there will be a new elections in case the elected president leaves the office for whatever reason.
    – ronenfe
    Nov 10, 2016 at 2:49

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