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The Electoral College, administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is not a place, it is a process that began as part of the original design of the U.S. Constitution. The Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between election of the president by Congress and election by popular vote. The people of the United States vote for the electors who then vote for the President.
Who Selects the Electors? The process for selecting electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party's central committee in each State. Electors are often selected to recognize their service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate. Then the voters in each State choose the electors on the day of the general election. The electors' names may or may not appear on the ballot below the name of the candidates running for President, depending on the procedure in each State.
Shouldn't a presidential election be determined by a popular vote in a democracy?
Yes. But we don't live in a democracy. We live in a federation/republic. The best example of this is the U.S. Congress. The Congress is divided into two houses. The House of Representatives was created as a representation of the will of the people, giving each equally populated block of citizens a single representation with equal power. The Senate, on the other hand, which is more powerful, is not a representation of the people, but a representation of the states (state governments, if you will). In the Senate, each state has exactly two representatives, giving EVERY state equal power. The Senate was created to encourage those very small states to enter the Union. Otherwise, it would not be logical for states with tiny populations (relative to the U.S. population) to enter into a true representative Union as they would be relinquishing their own sovereign power over themselves by doing so.
Proportional Allocation of Electoral Votes :
This system has been proposed with a number of variations, most recently in Colorado. As a popular alternative, it splits each state’s electoral votes in accordance with their popular vote percentages. This way, a candidate who come in second place in a state with 45% of the popular vote would receive 45% of the electoral votes from that state, instead of 0%.
This system would greatly increase voter turnout and the representation of all parties in a state. It would also encourage candidates to campaign in all states rather than just those that are competitive. Though the majority, as always, would come out on top in each state, the minority's supporters would not be effectively contributing to their candidate's defeat when the whole of their state's electoral votes go a candidate they do not support.