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Current Assigning of Electors


Presidential Electors are nominated by their state political parties in the summer before the Popular Vote on Election Day. Each state provides its own means for the nomination of Electors. In some states, such as Oklahoma, the Electors are nominated in primaries the same way that other candidates are nominated. Other states, such as Virginia and North Carolina, nominate Electors in party conventions. In Pennsylvania, the campaign committees of the candidates name their candidates for Presidential Elector (an attempt to discourage faithless Electors).

All states require the names of all Electors to be filed with the Secretary of State (or equivalent) at least a month prior to election day. On election day, voters cast ballots for slates of Presidential Electors pledged to the candidates for president and vice president. In most states, the party that wins the state elects its entire slate of Electors. At the time of the state canvass of the vote, the Secretary of State (or equivalent) signs a special form called the Certificate of Ascertainment which sets forth the people elected to the office of Presidential Elector, along with the number of votes cast for every party's slate of Elector nominees. These Certificates of Ascertainment are forwarded to the Office of the Vice President to be used to verify that the people who cast the electoral votes are in fact the people who were elected for that purpose. Two states elect the Presidential Electors with a slightly different method. Maine and Nebraska elect two Electors by a statewide ballot and choose their remaining Electors by congressional district. The method has been used in Maine since 1972 and Nebraska since 1996, though neither has split its electoral votes in modern elections.

Alternative methods of choosing electors

The current system of choosing Presidential Electors is called the "short ballot." In all states, voters choose among states of candidates for Elector; only a few states list the names of the Presidential Electors on the ballot. (In some states, if a voter wishes to write in a candidate for president, the voter also is required to write in the names of candidates for Elector.) Before the advent of the "short ballot" in the early twentieth century, the most common means of electing the Presidential Electors was through the "General Ticket." The General Ticket is quite similar to the current system and is often confused with it. In the General Ticket, voters cast ballots for individuals running for Presidential Elector (while in the short ballot, voters cast ballots for an entire slate of Electors).

 In the General Ticket, the state canvass would report the number of votes cast for each candidate for Elector, a complicated process in states like New York with multiple positions to fill. Both the General Ticket and the short ballot are often considered At Large or winner-takes-all voting. The short ballot was adopted by the various states at different times; it was adopted for use by North Carolina and Ohio in 1932 (possibly the first year in which it was used). Alabama was still using the General Ticket as late as 1960 and was one of the last states to switch to the short ballot.