The New Student's Reference Work/Electoral College

Electoral College. The persons who, according to the political system of the United States, are chosen by the people of the different states to elect the president and vice-president are called electors, and the electors of all the states form the electoral college. Each state chooses a number of electors equal to the number of members it sends to both houses of Congress; but no member of Congress or person holding civil office under the United States can serve as an elector. The electors are chosen on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year preceding the year in which the presidential term expires. They meet in their respective states on the second Monday in January, and cast their votes. They were originally intended to use their own judgment in casting their votes, but now they simply vote for the candidates nominated by the party by which they have been chosen as electors. The votes are then opened and counted by both houses of Congress, in joint session, on the second Wednesday of February. If no candidate has a majority of all the votes, the house of representatives chooses the president by ballot from the three who have the highest number of votes, each state having one vote; the vice-president is similarly chosen by the senate. See Johnson's American Politics and Andrews' Manual of the Constitution.