U.S. Electoral College

The framers of the U.S. Constitution established the Electoral College as the mechanism for electing presidents. Each state is allocated a number of electoral votes equal to the number of members it sends to Congress. The citizens then vote for electors who directly vote for presidential candidates. In most states, the candidate who wins the majority of each state's electoral votes wins all of them, not just the number he or she received. The candidate with a majority of the nation's total electoral votes becomes president. Initially, the system was devised as a barrier between direct popular election of the president with the electors presumably possessing some autonomy in their choice. However, over time the office became practically symbolic and electors routinely voted precisely in line with voter preference.

U.S. Const. art. II, ยง 1; Dale Vinyard, "Electoral College," Dictionary of American History, rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976), 2:411-12.