GLENBURN (AP) – The institution touts itself as “America’s original party school.” It has no sports teams, yet it claims to be “undefeated since 1787.” Its crest features the words “Vis in Numeris,” Latin for “strength in numbers.” Its song: “Hail to the Chief.”

Every four years, the presidential election brings a surge in business for a sportswear company bearing the name of a college that doesn’t exist: the Electoral College.

Already, several thousand sweatshirts and T-shirts have been sold. Thousands more are awaiting shipment at the world headquarters of Electoral College Sportswear & Accessories, otherwise known as the home of John and Marcia Diamond in this bedroom community outside Bangor.

“Blame the Founding Fathers for the concept, but give us credit for seeing the business opportunity,” John Diamond said after a long night of packing orders for shipment.

Many of the T-shirts, sweatshirts, golf shirts and caps carry a collegiate-style seal, depicting the White House, laurel and Latin motto. Others feature a spiffy “Electoral College Athletic Department XXL” logo. There’s also an honorary doctorate, suitable for framing.

Most people get the joke. But others are left to inquire of the wearer, what year did you graduate? Where is the Electoral College located?

“The interesting wrinkle is that they look exactly like a typical college’s sweatshirts with the name of the college and the seal and all of that stuff,” said Sheldon Smith of Arlington, Va. “It’s just kind of a play on words and I thought they were clever.”

The typical customer is a political junkie or someone with ties to politics, and Smith fits the profile. He’s the voice talent for GOP political ads airing in 20 to 30 states.

Smith has ordered dozens to give as gifts to clients. And he recently placed an order for a new one for himself after he wore out his old sweatshirt.

Campaigns and Elections’ Politics Magazine, a nonpartisan trade magazine based outside Washington, D.C., plans to hand out Electoral College T-shirts and sweatshirts at its election night party, said associate publisher Tracy Dietz.

“I hate to say it’s cute, but it is,” Dietz said. “It shows that you’re political and involved in the process but you’re not being partisan. That’s important in my line of work.”

The Diamonds are die-hard politicos, as well. John served in the Maine Legislature, and Marcia was deputy press secretary for then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. She’s now a school principal and he works for the University of Maine System.

They hatched their idea when John was a delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. They felt most of the political memorabilia for sale was cheesy, and they thought delegates might find room in their closets for sturdy Electoral College sportswear.

The idea was to make enough money to pay for their trips to conventions, but it took several years of batting the idea around before they obtained a trademark in 1995.

Sales peak every four years during presidential elections when the Electoral College comes to the public forefront as journalists and political pundits show their maps and discuss electoral scenarios.

Presidential electors emerged as a compromise between those Founding Fathers who wanted Congress to elect the president and others who favored a popular vote. The number of electors equals the number of members of Congress from each state. Together, it’s known informally as the Electoral College.

In most states, the winner takes all of the electoral votes based on the popular vote winner. But two states, Maine and Nebraska, divvy up their electoral votes.

While the Diamonds are busy these days, business isn’t booming like it was eight years ago when interest in the electoral battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore reached a fever pitch as the outcome of the election remained in limbo for weeks after the election.

Back then, the Diamonds hastily added phone lines and extra workers as sales exploded. They realized they needed more space after their 8-year-old daughter awoke one morning to find a stranger on the floor using her telephone line to run credit cards.

“Sarah woke up and said, ‘Who are you?’ They said, ‘I’m helping your mom and dad,”‘ John Diamond said. “It was quite comical.”

They ultimately moved to a warehouse but even then demand outstripped production capacity, leaving them unable to fulfill all their orders. Nonetheless, the Diamonds sold nearly 18,000 items, more than they ever dreamed of when they started the enterprise.

These days, they’re back to operating the business out of their house.

“I don’t think we’ll ever match the 2000 sales unless there’s another constitutional crisis,” Diamond said. He hastily added: “And we’re too patriotic to wish for a constitutional crisis.”

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