|Part of the Politics series|
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or entities, with each organization, political party or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way.
Early Germanic law stated that the German king led only with the support of his nobles. Thus, Pelagius needed to be elected by his Visigothic nobles before becoming king of Asturias, and so did Pepin the Short by Frankish nobles in order to become the first Carolingian king. While most other Germanic nations had developed a strictly hereditary system by the end of the first millennium, the Holy Roman Empire did not, and the King of the Romans, who would become, by papal coronation, Holy Roman Emperor or at least Emperor-elect, was elected by the college of prince-electors from the late Middle Ages until 1806 (the last election took place in 1792).
In the Church, both the clergy and laity elected the bishop or presiding presbyter. However, for various reasons, such as a desire to reduce the influence of the state or the laity in ecclesiastical matters, electoral power became restricted to the clergy and, in the case of the Church in the West, exclusively to a college of the canons of the cathedral church. In the Pope's case, the system of people and clergy was eventually replaced by a college of the important clergy of Rome, which eventually became known as the College of Cardinals. Since 1059, it has had exclusive authority over papal selection.
In the 19th century and beyond, it was usual in many countries that voters did not directly vote the members of parliament. In Prussia for example, in 1849–1918 the voters were Urwähler (original voters), appointing with their vote a Wahlmann (elector). The group of electors in a district elected the deputy for the Prussian House of Representatives. Such indirect suffrage was a means to steer the voting, to make sure that the electors were "able" persons. For electors, the requirements were usually higher than for the original voters. The left wing opposition was very much opposed to indirect suffrage. [ citation needed ]
Even today in the Netherlands, the deputies of the First Chamber are elected by the provincial parliaments. Those provincial parliaments form the many electoral colleges for the First Chamber elections; the lists of candidates are national.
Countries with complex regional electorates may elect a head of state by means of an electoral college rather than a direct popular election.
In the sovereign Holy See, with the Vatican City as sovereign territory, the members of the College of Cardinals under the age of 80 elect the pope in a papal conclave. The pope being the chief executive of the Vatican, the election of the pope serves as the selection of the executive authority.
The United States Electoral College is an example of a system in which an executive president is indirectly elected,with electors representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The votes of the public determine electors, who formally choose the president through the electoral college. Each state has a number of electors equal to its Congressional representation (in both houses), with the non-state District of Columbia receiving the number it would have if it were a state, but in no case more than that of the least populous state. Under this system, all electors generally cast their votes for the winner of the popular vote in their respective states, except in Maine and Nebraska, where some electors cast votes for the winner of the state popular vote, and some cast their votes for the winner of the popular vote in Congressional Districts. However, there are several states where this is not required by law. In the United States, 270 electoral votes of the 538 electors are currently required to win the presidential election. If no candidate receives the required 270 electoral votes, the lower chamber of the United States' Congress, the House of Representatives, chooses the President, with each state delegation receiving one vote in this election by the Legislature. The Senate chooses the Vice President.
While the Electoral College was not controversial from its inception at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, up through the years immediately following the convention, it had become more controversial by the latter years of the 19th century, up through to the present day.More resolutions have been submitted to amend the Electoral College mechanism than any other part of the constitution.
There are five ways electoral college representatives are typically chosen: presidential nomination appointment; party nominee by appointment; gubernatorial appointments; state chair appointments; and hybrid methods for the elector selection.
State laws requiring electors to vote as directed are the subject of ongoing legal controversy. In 2020, the United States Supreme Court decided that, in Chiafalo v. Washington , those electors may be punished by law if they do not vote as directed.
In France, an electoral college is particularly formed by the Grands électeurs consisting of local elected representatives (French departmental councillors, French regional councillors and French mayors). Since the beginning of the French Fifth Republic, these Grands électeurs are responsible for electing the senators.Prior to the 1962 French presidential election referendum, the President of the French Republic was elected indirectly by these Grands électeurs; prior to the adoption of the French Constitution of 1958, the President of France was elected by the French Parliament.
"Colleges" of electors play a role in elections in other countries, albeit with electors allocated in ways differing from the United States. In Germany, the members of the federal parliament together with an equal number of people elected from the state parliaments constitute the Federal Convention, that exists for the only purpose of electing the (non-executive) head of state.Similarly, in India the members of both houses of parliament together with weighted votes from the members of the state legislative assemblies constitute an electoral college that elects the (non-executive) head of state. In Italy, the (non-executive) head of state is elected by the members of both houses of Parliament in joint session, together with delegates elected by the Regional Councils to ensure the representation of minorities.
Other countries with electoral college systems include Burundi, Estonia,Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu. The Seanad Éireann (Senate) in Ireland is chosen by an electoral college. Within China, both Macau and Hong Kong each have an Election Committee which functions as an electoral college for selecting the Chief Executive and for selecting some of the seats of the Legislative Council. In Guernsey, an electoral college called the States of Election chooses the island's jurats. Georgia will have an electoral college to elect the President of Georgia beginning in 2024.
Ecclesiastical electoral colleges abound in modern times, especially among Protestant and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. In the Eastern rite churches, all the bishops of an autocephalous church elect successor bishops, thus serving as an electoral college for all the episcopal sees.[ citation needed ]
Historical examples of electoral colleges include Finland's, which elected the country's president from 1925 to 1988, exceptions are 1944 (exception law), 1946 (parliament) and 1973 (extended term by exception law). The electoral college was replaced by direct elections (consisting of two-round voting) since 1994.
During Brazil's military rule period, the president was elected by an electoral college comprising senators, deputies, state deputies, and lawmakers in the cities. The electoral college was replaced with a two-round system direct election in 1989, after the restoration of democracy.
Argentina had an electoral college established by its original 1853 Constitution, which was used to elect its president.The constitution was amended in 1949 by President Juan Perón and the electoral college was replaced with direct elections by popular vote used in the elections of 1951. After the Revolución Libertadora the 1957 reform repealed the 1949 Constitution and the electoral college was used again in the elections of 1958 and 1963. The elections of March 1973 and September 1973 used direct elections by popular vote and a not used two-round system according to the Temporary Fundamental Statute enacted by the military junta in 1972. The elections of 1983 and 1989 used again the electoral college. The constitution was amended in 1994 and the electoral college was replaced with direct elections by popular vote, using a two-round system since 1995.
Paraguay had an electoral college that was established by the 1870 Constitution, which was used to elect its president. The constitution was replaced in 1940 and the electoral college was replaced with direct elections by popular vote since 1943.
Chile had an electoral college established by the 1828 Constitution, which was used to elect its president in the elections from 1829 to 1920. The constitution was amended in 1925 and the electoral college was replaced with direct elections by popular vote since 1925.
In France, the president was elected by the legislature from 1875 to 1954. The first presidential election of the Fifth Republic which elected Charles de Gaulle was the only presidential election where the winner was determined via an electoral college. The electoral college was replaced after the 1962 referendum, with direct elections by popular vote, using a Two-round system since 1965.
In Spain, during the Second Republic period (1931–1936–39) the President was elected by an electoral college comprising the Parliament members and an equal number of democratically elected members ("compromisarios").
The President of the Republic of China was elected by the National Assembly of the Republic of China from 1948 until 1996 when democratization resulted in direct elections. The National Assembly had the similar function of electoral college except it had the power to amend the Constitution. The People's Republic of China in the mainland today elects both the President and the Premier by the National People's Congress every five years similar to the National Assembly.
In South Korea, the President was elected by an electoral college under the dictatorships of the Fourth and Fifth Republics from 1972 until 1981 when democratization resulted in direct elections starting in 1987. Additionally, during the Fourth Republic, one-third of members of the National Assembly were nominally elected by the same electoral college which elected the President, though in practice they were appointed by the President.
In apartheid-era South Africa from 1961 to 1983, the State President of South Africa was appointed by an electoral college consisting of all the members of the House of Assembly of South Africa and the Senate of South Africa.Although after the adoption of the 1983 Constitution, transferring the position of State President from a legislative one to an executive one, the new House of Assembly, House of Representatives, and House of Delegates would designate 50, 25, and 13 of their members to the electoral college respectively. The electoral college would disappear along with the apartheid government, with the President of South Africa being elected by the South African Parliament in 1994, which is still the method of election to this day.
Another type of electoral college was used by the British Labour Party to choose its leader between 1983 and 2010. The college consisted of three sections: the votes of Labour MPs and MEPs; the votes of affiliated trade unions and socialist societies; and the votes of individual members of Constituency Labour Parties.
Early in United States history, state legislatures were essentially electoral colleges for both the U.S. Senate and even the federal Electoral College itself. Prior to 1913, U.S. state legislatures appointed U.S. senators from their respective states, and prior to 1872, U.S. presidential electors were in many cases chosen by state legislatures (though most states had switched to popular elections for electors by 1824). Because state legislatures had so much influence over federal elections, state legislative elections were frequently proxy votes for either the Senate or the presidency. The famed 1858 Lincoln–Douglas debates, reputedly held during a U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois, actually occurred during an election for the Illinois state legislature; neither Lincoln's nor Douglas' names appeared on any ballot. During the American Civil War, the Confederacy used an Electoral College that was functionally identical to that of the United States; it convened just once, in 1861, to elect Jefferson Davis as president.
President is a common title for the head of state in most republics. The president of a nation is, generally speaking, the head of the government and the fundamental leader of the country or the ceremonial head of state.
The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the procedure for electing the president and vice president. It replaced the procedure provided in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, by which the Electoral College originally functioned. The amendment was proposed by the Congress on December 9, 1803, and was ratified by the requisite three-fourths of state legislatures on June 15, 1804. The new rules took effect for the 1804 presidential election and have governed all subsequent presidential elections.
The 1788–1789 United States presidential election was the first quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Monday, December 15, 1788, to Saturday, January 10, 1789, under the new Constitution ratified that same year. George Washington was unanimously elected for the first of his two terms as president and John Adams became the first vice president. This was the only U.S. presidential election that spanned two calendar years without a contingent election and the first national presidential election in American history.
The 1792 United States presidential election was the second quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Friday, November 2, to Wednesday, December 5, 1792. Incumbent President George Washington was elected to a second term by a unanimous vote in the electoral college, while John Adams was re-elected as vice president. Washington was essentially unopposed, but Adams faced a competitive re-election against Governor George Clinton of New York.
The 1796 United States presidential election was the third quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Friday, November 4 to Wednesday, December 7, 1796. It was the first contested American presidential election, the first presidential election in which political parties played a dominant role, and the only presidential election in which a president and vice president were elected from opposing tickets. Incumbent Vice President John Adams of the Federalist Party defeated former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican Party.
The United States Electoral College is the group of presidential electors required by the Constitution to form every four years for the sole purpose of appointing the president and vice president. Each state and the District of Columbia appoints electors pursuant to the methods described by its legislature, equal in number to its congressional delegation. Federal office holders, including senators and representatives, cannot be electors. Of the current 538 electors, an absolute majority of 270 or more electoral votes is required to elect the president and vice president. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority there, a contingent election is held by the United States House of Representatives to elect the president, and by the United States Senate to elect the vice president.
An executive president is the head of state who exercises authority over the governance of that state, and can be found in presidential, semi-presidential, and parliamentary systems.
An indirect election or hierarchical voting is an election in which voters do not choose directly among candidates or parties for an office, but elect people who in turn choose candidates or parties. It is one of the oldest forms of elections and is used by many countries for heads of state, cabinets, heads of government, and/or upper houses. It is also used for some supranational legislatures.
A presidential election is the election of any head of state whose official title is President.
How Democratic is the American Constitution? is a book by political scientist Robert A. Dahl that discusses seven "undemocratic" elements of the United States Constitution.
In United States presidential elections, an unpledged elector is a person nominated to stand as an elector but who has not pledged to support any particular presidential or vice presidential candidate, and is free to vote for any candidate when elected a member of the Electoral College. Presidential elections are indirect, with voters in each state choosing electors on Election Day in November, and these electors choosing the president and vice president of the United States in December. Electors in practice have since the 19th century almost always agreed in advance to vote for a particular candidate — that is, they are said to have been pledged to that candidate. In several elections in the 20th century, however, competitive campaigns were mounted by candidates who made no pledge to any presidential nominee before the election. These anomalies largely arose from fissures within the Democratic Party over the issues of civil rights and segregation. No serious general election campaign has been mounted to elect unpledged electors in any state since 1964.
The coattail effect or down-ballot effect is the tendency for a popular political party leader to attract votes for other candidates of the same party in an election. For example, in the United States, the party of a victorious presidential candidate will often win many seats in Congress as well; these Members of Congress are voted into office "on the coattails" of the president.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential ticket wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide is elected president, and it would come into effect only when it would guarantee that outcome. As of January 2023, it has been adopted by fifteen states and the District of Columbia. These states have 195 electoral votes, which is 36% of the Electoral College and 72% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.
Bills have been introduced in the US Congress on several occasions to amend the US Constitution to abolish or to reduce the power of the Electoral College and to provide for the direct popular election of the US president and vice president.
A referendum on the method of the election of the president was held in France on 28 October 1962. The question was whether to have the President of the French Republic elected by direct popular vote, rather than by an electoral college. It was approved by 62.3% of voters with a 77.0% turnout. The reform was controversial because it strengthened the executive at the expense of Parliament, and because of the disputed constitutionality of the procedure used.
The election of the president and the vice president of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the fifty U.S. states or in Washington, D.C., cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the Electoral College. These electors then cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for president, and for vice president. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes for president, the House of Representatives elects the president; likewise if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for vice president, then the Senate elects the vice president.
The President of India is indirectly elected with Instant-runoff voting by means of an electoral college consisting of the elected members of the Parliament of India and the Legislative assemblies of the States of India and the Union territories. The number and value of votes are based on the population in 1971 rather than the current population, as a result of the 42nd Amendment, and extended by the 84th Amendment, with the intention to encourage family planning programs in the states by ensuring that states are not penalised for lowering their population growth and development.
The 1861 Confederate States presidential election of November 6, 1861, was the only presidential election held under the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis, who had been elected president and Alexander H. Stephens, who had been elected vice president, under the Provisional Constitution, were elected to six-year terms that would have lasted from February 22, 1862 until February 22, 1868. In fact, both Davis and Stephens' offices were abolished on May 5, 1865 when the Confederate government dissolved.
Semi-parliamentary system can refer to either a prime-ministerial system, in which voters simultaneously vote for both members of legislature and the prime minister, or to a system of government in which the legislature is split into two parts that are both directly elected – one that has the power to remove the members of the executive by a vote of no confidence and another that does not. The former was first proposed by Maurice Duverger, who used it to refer to Israel from 1996-2001. The second was identified by German academic Steffen Ganghof.
Apportionment by country describes the practices used in various democratic countries around the world for partitioning seats in the parliament among districts or parties. See apportionment (politics) for the general principles and issues related to apportionment.