1789 – Americans voted for the electors that would choose George Washington to be the first U.S. president.


United States Electoral College

Congress sets January 7, 1789 as the date by which states are required to choose electors for the country’s first-ever presidential election. A month later, on February 4, George Washington was elected president by state electors and sworn into office on April 30, 1789.
As it did in 1789, the United States still uses the Electoral College system, established by the U.S. Constitution, which today gives all American citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote for electors, who in turn vote for the president. The president and vice president are the only elected federal officials chosen by the Electoral College instead of by direct popular vote.
Today political parties usually nominate their slate of electors at their state conventions or by a vote of the party’s central state committee, with party loyalists often being picked for the job. Members of the U.S. Congress, though, can’t be electors. Each state is allowed to choose as many electors as it has senators and representatives in Congress. During a presidential election year, on Election Day (the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November), the electors from the party that gets the most popular votes are elected in a winner-take-all-system, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, which allocate electors proportionally. In order to win the presidency, a candidate needs a majority of 270 electoral votes out of a possible 538.

READ MORE: Why Was the Electoral College Created?

Citation Information
Article Title
First U.S. presidential election
Author
History.com Editors
Website Name
HISTORY
URL
https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-u-s-presidential-election
Access Date
January 6, 2020
Publisher
A&E Television Networks
Last Updated
January 6, 2020
Original Published Date
November 24, 2009

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