My lunch buddies and I had an animated discussion the other day about the electoral college. This of course (d)evolved into a discussion about our constitution and a popular national election for president. One of our members maintained that individual citizens actually have no constitutional right to vote for president at all - that only the states have a constitutional right to select the president in the form of the electoral college, and that the states have the right to select those electors any way they please (notably not by election at all).
A few googles later we were astounded to see that nothing in the constitution seems to disagree with his assertion. In fact we see that in several instances (including more than half of the original 13 states in the first presidential election) the states did do exactly this : simply designated their electors without benefit of a popular vote. Apparently we vote for president only because our states let us.
So, how did we get where we are today?
And what stops a state legislature dominated by one party (or the other) from abolishing the election in their state and simply designating electors to choose their party’s candidate for president?