I’ve always thought that members of the electoral college should vote the way of their state’s popular vote or abstain. Truthfully, I really couldn’t remember much about why it was created in the first place so I decided to do a little web surfing for some answers…
*The electoral college consists of 538 electors, and of those, a candidate needs 270 votes to become president. Although the Founding Fathers wanted the people to have a say, there was concern that a charismatic tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come into power. Alexander Hamilton briefly addressed these concerns in the Federalist Papers. The idea was that the electors would be a group of people who would ensure that a qualified person would become president.
The first design of the electoral college allowed each state the same number of electors as senators, which was always two, plus the same number of its U.S. Representatives. Each elector met within its own state rather than one large meeting altogether. The founding fathers believed this would prevent bribery, corruption and secret dealings. The candidate with the most electoral votes, provided it was the majority, became president. The candidate with the second most electoral votes became vice president. (Wouldn’t that make for an interesting presidency now?) lasted through the first four presidential elections when the powers that be realized ties were inevitable. The process was changed to include one vote for president and a separate vote for vice president, but still required a majority vote in order for a candidate to take office.
Prior to this election, only four other times did a President win by the electoral college votes but lost in the popular vote:
In 1824, John Quincy Adams
(party affiliation(s) Federalist then Democratic-Republican/forerunner of the Republican) was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson (Democratic-Republican party) was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.
In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes (party affiliation(s) Whig, then Republican) won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden (Democratic)
In 1888, Benjamin Harrison (party affiliation(s) Republican)
received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s (Democratic) 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.
In 2000, George W. Bush (party affliation(s) Republican) was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore (Democratic) holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.
*excerpts from Wikipedia
For more interest info (like they don’t officially count the Electoral College votes until January 6, 2017) go to:
Re: Faithless Electors