Presidential electors get together in each state every four years to cast their votes for president and vice president. Electors are chosen in processes defined by state law, creating a patchwork of selection processes. In some cases, state laws defer to political party bylaws to define how electors are chosen.
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How are Electors Chosen?
The following list categorizes how each state selects its electors as of the 2016 presidential election. There are 33 states that choose electors by party convention, while seven states and the District of Columbia select electors by state party committees. The remaining 10 states use gubernatorial appointments, appointment by party nominees, state chair appointments, presidential nominee appointments, and hybrid methods for elector selection.
The typical qualifications for a presidential elector include current membership in the party, current voter registration, and a pledge to vote for the party’s presidential ticket. No matter the selection method, a slate of alternates is usually selected in case electors are unable to fulfill their duties. Another common feature of state elector laws is the allowance for electors to select replacements by majority vote in case of unexpected absences.
By State Party Convention
This method is the most commonly used for selection of presidential electors. Each party’s state convention nominates electors from each congressional district to vote for the national party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates. Vacancies following the convention are filled by the central committee of the state party.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
By State Party Committee
The central committee for each state or district party with a presidential ticket selects electors prior to the general election. This committee also appoints replacements for elector vacancies prior to the presidential election.
Additional Methods for How Electors Are Chosen
The following states use other methods for selecting their presidential electors:
Arizona: By state party chair
The state chair for each party with a presidential ticket selects electors prior to the general election. The chair also appoints replacements for elector vacancies prior to the presidential election.
California: By state officeholders and candidates
Democratic nominees for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate each nominate an elector in presidential years. The California Republican Party selects nominees for state and federal offices along with legislative leaders and committee members as electors.
Florida: By governor
Florida’s governor selects each party’s presidential electors from nominations made by state party committees. The governor can only choose electors based on party nominations.
Illinois: By state party committee and state party convention
The central committee for the Democratic Party of Illinois selects presidential electors. The Illinois Republican Party nominates its presidential electors during a state convention.
The state chair of the Maryland Democratic Party appoints electors based on nominations from local party committees. The Maryland Republican Party’s central committee appoints electors prior to the presidential election.
North Carolina: By district and state party conventions
Each party selects an elector for each congressional district during district conventions. The party’s state convention selects two at-large electors to complete its Electoral College slate.
The Oregon Democratic Party selects congressional district committee chairs and the state party’s chair and vice chair as electors. The Oregon Republican Party nominates electors during congressional district conventions.
Pennsylvania: By presidential nominee
The presidential nominee for each party nominates electors to the Pennsylvania Secretary of State. The vice presidential nominee may be asked to nominate electors at the presidential nominee’s discretion.
Rhode Island: By state officeholders and candidates
Each party with a presidential ticket holds a convention prior to the presidential election that selects electors. This convention consists solely of state and federal officeholders and candidates for these offices in the general election.
Wisconsin: By state officeholders and candidates
State legislators, state executives, and candidates for those offices from each party nominate electors. This nomination process takes place the October prior to the presidential election.