Electoral College Questions
doughr at ACAD.UDALLAS.EDU
Wed Nov 8 14:25:20 PST 2000
I'll try to answer some of the questions raised about the electors:
1.) Electors are pledged to support the candidate on whose slate they
appear, but the firmness of that pledge varies. In 20 states (oops, 19
plus DC; we haven't added it as a state yet, despite the pleas of many
on the list) they are bound by law, and in an additional 5 states they
are bound by law with a penalty attached for having violated their
pledge. (In Florida they are bound by law, but without the automatic
penalty.) The penalty ranges from a misdemeanor to a fourth degree
felony, and fines up to $1000. The triggering mechanism for legal action
2.) Electors are generally chosen by state party conventions, usually in
an election in which they strive with each other to show just how loyal
they are to the party. In other states they are chosen by a party
committee. (In 3, CA, PA, and WI, there is a different arrangement.)
They tend to be long-time party activists, and thus would clearly not be
inclined to "switch" their vote based on popular returns in other states
-- that is critical, that in the scenario some paint you would be asking
electors to abandon their home state selection in favor of some national
result. My guess is that's not likely.
3.) Electors are traditionally extremely loyal to the party. One WV
elector in 1988 voted for Bentsen, though Dukakis won the state; in 1976
one Michigan elector voted for Reagan, though Ford won. Again, it's
pretty rare (historically, 8 out of 16,000 total electoral votes cast).
You hear people today talking about these "faithless electors."
4.) The date for the Electoral College vote, Dec. 18, is set by
5.) From U.S. Code, concerning the failure to choose electors in the
TITLE 3 - THE PRESIDENT, CHAPTER 1 - PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND
Sec. 2. Failure to make choice on prescribed day
-STATUTE- Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of
choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed
by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a
manner as the legislature of such State may direct.
SOURCE- (June 25, 1948, ch. 644, 62 Stat. 672.)
University of Dallas
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