According to the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1,

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

There is plenty of information floating around on what the Electoral College does, what it does not do, and various reasons for and against having one in the first place. I'm not asking about that.

How does an individual US citizen reach for and achieve nomination to the Electoral College? According to the quote from the Constitution above, it seems that all that is Constitutionally required is to be appointed by one's state and not be per se disqualified, but I'm interested in the actual practical political process used today.

Generally (in the 21st century), what sort of accomplishments, skills, political clout, qualifications, etc. are required for an individual US citizen to secure an appointment to the Electoral College? Is this primarily a political patronage appointment (i.e. you have to know someone)? Is there a competitive exam process (e.g. a literacy test, Constitutional Law test)? Is interest in participation so low that virtually anyone who applies and meets the basic qualifications is able to get in?

I'm not asking about the basic legal qualifications for appointment to the Electoral College - those are given in the Constitution. What I'm asking about is how the process actually works today, and more specifically, how an aspiring (or wannabe) Elector starts upon the road to appointment.

If this question is too broad considering that there are fifty states, we can concentrate on New York as a sample state. We could imagine a child telling a guidance counselor, "When I grow up, I want to be a member of the Electoral College!" What sort of advice would be given in that case? First become a famous Constitutional Law attorney? Get in very deep with a political party to secure a patronage recommendation? Study hard for civil service exams?

  • take a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – James K
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 12:01
  • 3
    @JamesK That article lists the 2016 electors, but doesn't say anything about what they did to become electors except "These electors are chosen by each party before the general elections". How do the parties choose their electors?
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 12:43
  • @Philipp, I know. Thought the link could be a useful place for the OP or someone else to start their research.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 12:51
  • 1
    A quick skim of the (non-representitive) sample of those with a wiki link, they are either state-level politicians of that party, or major donors to that party
    – Caleth
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


While an elector is technically appointed by the state, the process by which this is done is typically to be nominated by a presidential candidate or party. Only the nominees of the winning candidate will be appointed as electors. I'm not going to explain here how to get a winning presidential candidate in an electoral district (statewide for all but a few by congressional district in Maine and Nebraska).

To be nominated by a candidate or more definitely by a party, one should be active in party politics. The same kind of people will be nominated as serve as delegates to the conventions. Such people may also serve in elected office, but that's not strictly required. People elected to federal office are constitutionally prohibited from being electors, but state and local office holders are not.

Individual states may have differing rules. In some states, this will be a rather boring job, as electors are required to vote for the candidates chosen by the vote.

Here are the rules for Hawaii, which say

Qualified political parties and parties or groups that complied with the presidential petition requirements of HRS §11-113 shall submit to the chief election officer its electors and alternates, after holding a state party or group convention pursuant to the constitution, bylaws, and rules of the party or group.

Other states have similar rules. I found that particular one by searching for "Hawaii electoral college".

  • 1
    This answer is useful. But approximately how does the party go about selecting who to nominate? Do the nominees volunteer, are they drafted, or what; is there some reward?
    – agc
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 18:13
  • @agc exactly. The formal, written criteria are easy to look up. I'm looking for the actual sociopolitical process followed in real life. Do political parties typically have a portfolio application process, where wannabe Electors demonstrate their long-term loyalty and support? Is there a "cattle call" where massive crowds take literacy and IQ tests, and the highest scorers go for final interviews at Party Headquarters? Is it a "Don't call us, we'll call you" type process where the average "person on the street" stands no chance of ever "making it"? Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 11:47
  • There are no literacy nor IQ tests. I would be very surprised if there were any sort of application process whatsoever. I don't know that drafted or not is a general rule. They need so many electors. The people making the decision are high in party politics. They will choose people that they know. Either volunteers or they'll ask people (if not enough volunteers). Unless the average person on the street is high in party politics, that person will not be picked. But an average person on the street could choose to participate in party politics and get picked.
    – Brythan
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 16:47
  • I wonder, essentially, do state election office issuing a paper which says “8 votes to President Candidate A” and finding 8 real people (human) become electors are different. I saw Faithless electors in the 2016 presidential election, and then come up with the idea above.
    – user33086
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 20:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .