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A voter is a person who has one vote in a single specific election. Electoral systems with electors are called indirect voting . The primary voters , i.e. all eligible voters, determine one or more electors in their constituency , and these in turn choose those who are actually to be elected. In contrast to MPs , electors are only designated for this one electoral act. The meeting of electors is called the electoral college referred.


Electors can be chosen freely , but electors can also emerge from sham elections , be appointed or receive the mandate by office or by birth . The electors of the Holy Roman Empire were, qua office, the group of electors who had the sole right to elect the Roman king . Electors can elect individuals as well as committees. In the United States, for example, the electors are delegates of the states who elect the president and vice-president in Electoral College .

As with direct elections, electors can also be elected with the same vote , or participation is subject to conditions (see census voting rights ).

Electors can since the introduction of woman suffrage also be women who analog conceptualization choice woman or choice person is still not very widespread. Within the formula “electors” and “electors” (also in the form written out in each case), however, the former is now used to a certain extent in the media . The phrase electorate has become increasingly popular lately.

Historically, electors have been sworn in many times. See the oath of deputies .

Historically, the reasons for calling in electors were primarily of a pragmatic nature: the poor transport connections and the decentralized tax and reporting system made direct voting difficult. Since there were still no clearly structured parties , the elections were personal choices. These presuppose that the candidates are known to the respective voters. The indirect choice was also seen as a kind of security level. The primary voters may have been assumed to be politically immature. A voter sometimes had to meet higher requirements, for example a higher minimum age or a higher tax burden than the primary voters. From a democratic perspective, such a social filter is obviously worthy of criticism.

Electors in Germany

The members of the state parliaments of the states of the German Confederation were determined by electors in indirect election, such as in the Kingdom of Prussia the Prussian House of Representatives from 1849 to 1918, see three-class voting rights .

There were also multi-stage electoral procedures: the election of the members of the second chamber of the state estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse , for example, was two-stage. First, the primary voters elected authorized representatives (electors of the first level), then they elected the actual electors, and they ultimately the representatives.

In the Federal Republic of Germany , the members of the Federal Assembly who elect the Federal President every five years are sometimes referred to as electors.

Electors in the United States of America

Election of electors

In any US state electors (be electors ) selected in accordance with national rules. In almost all states the " winner takes all " principle applies and the party that achieves a simple majority in the state can send all electors to that state. This principle does not apply in Nebraska and Maine ; the electors can also be divided there. This first happened in the 2008 election - Nebraska allocated four electors to John McCain and one to Barack Obama .

Election by electors

The Electoral College elects the US President every four years . The winner of the election is the candidate who has an absolute majority of the electoral votes ( majority voting ). If there is no absolute majority for a candidate, the House of Representatives, as the chamber that is closest to the people , elects the President and the Senate elects the Vice-President.

According to today's composition, at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes are required for a presidential candidate to win in Electoral College . This number is not in the United States Constitution , but is determined by Congress after the census . The number of electors in the individual states depends on the number of residents and corresponds to the representation of the state in Congress. H. the number of representatives of the House of Representatives and the Senate combined. Since every state has exactly two representatives in the Senate and at least one representative in the House of Representatives, the least populous states provide three electors.

Even a candidate who could only get the electoral votes of the eleven most populous states would become president. Although these states together have more than 56% of the electorate in the United States, but since a little more than half of the electoral vote in each of these states is sufficient to receive all electoral votes, less than 29% of the electorate in the national election can achieve an absolute majority bring to Electoral College. If a candidate receives more than half of the votes (100% in Maine and Nebraska for simplicity) from the 40 states with the greatest weighting of the votes, less than 23% of the vote is sufficient.

That the Electoral College is a majority for a party that is not its highest national share of the vote ( Popular Vote reached), resulted in 1824 in favor of the Democratic-Republican Party and in the years 1876 , 1888 , 2000 and 2016 respectively in favor the republican . In 2016, according to the current count , the Republicans with candidate Donald Trump received about 2.8 million fewer votes than the Democrats with candidate Hillary Clinton , but according to this complex suffrage, the Electoral College had 306 Republicans and only 232 for the election on December 19, 2016 democratic electors together.

Freedom from the will of the voters

In the early days of the USA, electors were assigned to one candidate. Today you are free to choose in 24 states. Twenty-six states, as well as Washington, have laws that require electors to vote for only one candidate. There is (as of 2016) no federal law that requires electors to vote for a certain presidential candidate, even if the ballot paper available to the voters suggests this bond.


The institution of the Electoral College was created after the American War of Independence on the basis of the election of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by the Electors . It is part of the checks and balances of the American system and should introduce another level of control. However, it has been and is criticized in democratic theory and in public opinion (especially outside the USA) because of its tendentially undemocratic implications .

A fundamental change in this electoral system appears unlikely in the near future, however, because it would require a change in the United States' constitution : In addition to a two-thirds majority in Congress (i.e. in the Senate and House of Representatives ), three-quarters of the 50 states must also vote .

State electors Inhabitants per voter
Alabama 9 531.082
Alaska 3 236,744
Arizona 11 581.092
Arkansas 6th 485.986
Colorado 9 558,800
Connecticut 7th 510,585
Delaware 3 299.311
Florida 29 648,321
Georgia 16 605.478
Hawaii 4th 340.075
Idaho 4th 391,896
Illinois 20th 641,532
Indiana 11 589,437
Iowa 6th 507.726
California 55 677.345
Kansas 6th 475,520
Kentucky 8th 542.421
Louisiana 8th 566,672
Maine 4th 332.090
Maryland 10 577.355
Massachusetts 11 595.239
Michigan 16 617.728
Minnesota 10 530.393
Mississippi 6th 494,550
Missouri 10 598,893
Montana 3 329,805
Nebraska 5 365.268
Nevada 6th 450.092
New Hampshire 4th 329.118
New Jersey 14th 627.992
New Mexico 5 411.836
new York 29 668.210
North Carolina 15th 635.699
North Dakota 3 224.197
Ohio 18th 640.917
Oklahoma 7th 535.907
Oregon 7th 547.296
Pennsylvania 20th 635.119
Rhode Island 4th 263.142
South carolina 9 513.929
South Dakota 3 271.393
Tennessee 11 576.919
Texas 38 661.725
Utah 6th 460,648
Vermont 3 208,580
Virginia 13 615.463
Washington 12 560.378
Washington, DC 3 * 200,574
West Virginia 5 370,599
Wisconsin 10 568,699
Wyoming 3 187.875
United States 538 573,876
*Although not a state, Washington, DC has three electors under the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution .

Web links

supporting documents

  1. This result is a second disgrace for Hillary Clinton. In: zeit.de , accessed December 21, 2016.
  2. US Presidential Elections: Twelve Little Surprises. In: Zeit Online . November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016 .
  3. What leeway do the electors have? In: welt.de , November 10, 2016, accessed on November 12, 2016.
  4. ^ About the Electors. US National Archives and Records Administration, accessed October 18, 2016.
  5. Are there restrictions on who the Electors can vote for? US National Archives and Records Administration, accessed November 9, 2016 .
  6. Article V of the Constitution