Elector, Or Prince Elector(Germ. Kurfurst), in the old German empire, the title of the princes who elected the emperor. The electoral privilege had its origin in the right assumed by the powerful nobles, who acquired supremacy in Germany after the extinction of the Carlovingian dynasty, of choosing one from their own number to be their head. In the ordinance issued by the emperor Charles IV. in 1356, known as the "golden bull," the archbishops of Mentz, Treves, and Cologne, the count palatine, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of Brandenburg, and the king of Bohemia were recognized as the persons in whom this right was vested. • These electors formed an electoral college, had the rank of king though without the title, and were possessed of various important rights and privileges. The electoral rights of the count palatine having been transferred during the thirty years' war (1623) to the duke of Bavaria, an additional or eighth electorate was created for the palatinate in 1648, which ceased to exist in 1777, when the house of Bavaria became extinct.

Brunswick-Luneburg was created an electorate in 1692. (See Hanover.) When the left bank of the Rhine was ceded to France in 1801 by the treaty of Luneville, changes in the electoral college became necessary, and were made in 1803. In place of the three ecclesiastics who were previously members of the college, the margrave of Baden, the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, the duke of Wurtemberg, the grand duke of Tuscany, who was also archbishop at first of Salzburg and afterward of Wurz-burg, and the archbishop of Mentz, with the style of archchancellor of the German empire, were confirmed in the electoral right. The whole electoral system, however, soon afterward (1806) came to an end upon the renunciation by the emperor Francis of the title of emperor of Germany. After that event most of the electors were designated by other titles. Hesse-Cassel ceased to be an electorate during the time it was merged in the new kingdom of Westphalia, but resumed the name upon the dissolution of that kingdom in 1813, and continued to be known by it until annexed to Prussia in 1866. - In the United States electors are chosen by the people of each state to elect the president and vice president.

Each state chooses as many electors as it has members in the two houses of congress; and these electors meet at the capitals of their respective states, on the first day of January next after the election, and cast their votes for president and vice president. These votes are then sealed up and carried by special messengers to Washington, where they are opened and counted before both houses of congress, and the result proclaimed by the president of the senate.