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Election: Presidents and the Constitution

While many Americans believe they have a right to vote for President of the United States, they actually never cast votes for candidates themselves. They vote for electors who, in modern times, are pledged to vote for certain candidates. This process differs from what was imagined by the Founders, who designed a republican system for citizens to vote for individuals in their state who they believed were wise and prudent (electors). Electors, chosen by the people, would then themselves vote among candidates for President on behalf of their state. Despite recurrent calls for its abolition, the Electoral College has served and continues to serve as a means for presidential selection that represents the will of the people as well as the sovereignty of states. Several times in our history, the Electoral College system was challenged as a result of unanticipated tie votes (1800), the allegation of a "corrupt bargain" among members of the House of Representatives (1826), and even conflicting sets of electoral votes submitted by states (1876). The Presidential election of 2000 was one of the most hotly contested in American history and ended with a Supreme Court decision halting the state-wide manual recount ordered by a state Supreme Court.