“Texas elector threatens not to vote Trump”– the Politico headline brought up the question of whether members of the electoral college can waver in their support of their party’s candidate. What exactly are the rules governing members of the electoral college?
Dennis Patterson, chair of the political science department at Texas Tech University, says electors in Texas are selected at the party’s state convention.
“Candidates apply… then those are finely chosen through party leaders,” he says, “and the idea being that they will vote the party line.”
Electors and delegates to the state convention are similar – both are expected to uphold the party’s nomination and platform. In 21 states, electors are not bound to vote for the nominee and electors can vote for someone who didn’t win their state, but Patterson says it’s been nearly a century since someone has gone against the party line.
“On election day, it’s the winning candidate’s set of electors who gets chosen by that state to represent that state in the electoral college,” he says. “It has happened in the past, but it’s very rare.”
Patterson says by law, Texas electors are allowed to vote for whom they chose. “The law that governs the electoral college here in the state of Texas says nothing about how you have to cast your ballot,” he says. “It’s really more procedural than anything else.”
But certain actions in this year’s election have little precedence, Patterson says: the former governor and the Bush family didn’t attend the convention. “This is a very, very divided party this year,” he says.
Opposition to Trump’s election could coalesce into a movement in electoral college after the election, but Patterson says if the Republican National Convention provides any indication, a movement against Trump would be quickly shut down.
“You will see rumblings here and there. You may see a few ballots either not cast or cast for a different candidate by electors, but I don’t think you’ll see a movement,” he says. “It’s politically not in the interest of the Republican party to have this kind of problem going on. Unity is really what you need at this time.”
Post by Hannah McBride.