Looking Backward Into the Present

Using the Popular Culture of the Past to Help Answer Perplexing Questions in the Present

What is a “Faithless Elector” in the U.S. Presidential Election?

Many people know that Americans in 2008 do not directly elect the president with their vote cast on Election Day. According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), when a vote is cast in the general election, it is to direct their State electors to cast a vote in the Electoral College for a certain candidate. On Election Day, state electors “pledge” their vote for a specific candidate. Then on December 15, the electors will meet in each state to select the president and vice president. The president of the Senate, the archivist of the United States and other officials must receive their electoral votes by December 24 and on January 6, Congress meets in joint session to count them.

 

But what if the elector in your state pledges to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in that area, but changes his or her mind when it comes to actually casting their vote within the Electoral College? After all, there is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires electors to vote according to the popular vote of the state. Many states have their own laws binding electors who pledge their votes to vote for the parties’ nominees or be subject to fines and/or be disqualified from electoral voting. However, there are 21 states that have no such laws.

 

Those electors who vote differently in the Electoral College from their Election Day pledge are called “faithless electors.” According to the Wikipedia entry on faithless electors, on about 158 occasions electors have cast their votes for president or vice president in a manner different from that prescribed by the legislature of the state they represented.

 

Some of those occasions are just simple mistakes, but other instances throughout history have been a coordinated effort by one or many to advance a personal agenda. Here are some faithless electors’ greatest hits according to www.FairVote.org:

 

 

It is important to note that faithless electors have never changed the outcome of the election…so far. But that doesn’t mean the system isn’t vulnerable to manipulation. On the eve of this historic Election Day, do you know who will be representing your voice in the Electoral College?

 

When Was Killing a Journalist Not Considered Murder? Click on Image for More Information About My Book About the Connection Between Dueling and the Origin of American Journalism

When Was Killing a Journalist Not Considered Murder? Click on Image for More Information About My Book About the Connection Between Dueling and the Origin of American Journalism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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