The Constitution of the United States Article II, Section 1, second paragraph, says:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress

Thus the legislature

  • could choose the electors itself, or it
  • could require the governor to appoint them, or it
  • could do what 48 of the 50 states do and have the voters choose them in such a manner that all of the state's electors are committed to vote for the same candidate, or it
  • could do what Maine and Nebraska do, having two electors chosen state-wide and one in each congressional district, or it
  • could do what North Carolina did when John Adams ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 1800, dividing the states into a number of electoral districts equal to the number of electors and having the voters choose one elector in each district (thus there were two more such districts than the number of congressional districts), or it
  • could do what Maryland and some other states have recently done, saying the state's electors would be chosen according to the nation-wide popular vote, provided a certain number of other states adopt the same legislation, or it
  • could do something else.

My question is: Has the history of what the states have done about this been written?

(BTW, the term "electoral college" is unofficial, imported from Germany's First Reich, in which membership in the electoral college was hereditary.)

  • Sources would help this. If Maryland has done what you assert, then I'm surprised nobody has filed suit; it would significantly abridge the rights of Maryland voters. Bizarre. And illogical; that might bind how the electors vote, but it doesn't choose who the electors are.
    – MCW
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 0:36
  • 1
    @MarkC.Wallace : Here's the Wikipedia article about it: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Interstate_Compact Commented May 31, 2016 at 1:10
  • 1
    @MarkC.Wallace : The states, and the District of Columbia, that have signed on are these: California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington Commented May 31, 2016 at 1:11
  • 1
    Not sure I understand the question. Perhaps nobody has compiled this in one place, but worst case you could do it yourself with 50 separate Google searches.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 18:24
  • 1
    There is a state-by-state table (going up to 1832 only, though) in en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States) ; plus some notes on later changes, though it's not immediately clear how comprehensive that is. Surprised WP doesn't have a single massive table! Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


The closest thing I've found to a detailed history of this is here. It's not written by a professional historian, and it's a long and rather rambling essay. (It also was apparently written before the 2000 election, so it doesn't cover recent developments as discussed in the question.) But it basically does trace the history of the Electoral College in detail, including a lot of information on when states switched methods of selecting Electors.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.