During the debates at the Constitutional Convention, some delegates argued that the diversity and dispersal of the people over an expansive territory militated against direct popular election, for voters would be unable to form a majority behind any one candidate.
In response, James Madison proposed that every individual voter cast three votes for President, at least two for persons from a state other than his own.
Indeed, under the arithmetic, it was possible that as many as three candidates could have a majority of the votes of the electors.
The provision did not prevent a New York elector from voting for two Virginians, but prohibited a Virginia elector from doing so.
But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice.
In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.
The contingency election process also reassured delegates who had favored congressional election of the President in the first instance.
The Twelfth Amendment modified these provisions, following a crisis in 1800, when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received an equal number of electoral votes.
Meeting in their home states, electors would find it difficult to collude or buy and sell votes.
A more difficult problem was how to structure the voting within the Electoral College.