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The electoral college proposed for a second time

The Creation of the Electoral College

by Dr Nicholas Cole (npcole)

Cite as: Dr Nicholas Cole, ‘The electoral college proposed for a second time’ in N. P. Cole, Grace Mallon and Kat Howarth, The Creation of the Electoral College, Quill Project at Pembroke College (Oxford, 2016), item 73.

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The electoral college proposed for a second time


The idea of a distinct group of electors, chosen by state legislatures, whose sole function would be to choose the executive magistrate had been considered by the Committee of the Whole and rejected, but was here proposed again.

Again, the idea appears to have been to secure sufficient independence from the national legislative body. The idea of a separate group of electors enabled the state legislatures to be apportioned (in effect) a weighted voice dependent on the size of their populations, though this proposal was made before formulas for the representation of the states in the legislative branches had been agreed.

The motion was clearly contentious, and eventually voted on in parts rather than as a whole -- the principle of electors, the principle of allowing state legislative branches to appoint them, and the way in which the size of states would be reflected being taken as separate questions. This allowed the first two principles to be accepted, while the formula suggested by Elsworth for reflecting state sizes was rejected. This effectively narrowed the point of disagreement over the next sessions to the question of how to apportion electors, and a clarification about the ineligibility of members of the national government themselves to be electors.

Approved for publication