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Should Members Of The Electoral College Be Allowed To Vote Their Conscience?

Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman CC-BY 2.0: http://bit.ly/2upXAEk

The Electoral College has the ultimate decision-making power when choosing the next president and members are supposed to -- and in some states required to -- vote for the winner of their state's popular vote. But since the country's founding, more than 180 so-called "faithless electors" have bucked the system and instead used their own discretion to select a candidate.

This spring, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not members of the Electoral College should be required to vote for their parties’ candidates in a presidential election. Lower courts have reached opposite conclusions on the issue.

Faithless electors have not yet changed an outcome, but they could. Only 10 rogue votes could have flipped outcomes in five of the previous 58 presidential elections. More electors cast rogue votes in 2016 than any previous election, including two in Texas who refused to vote for Donald Trump.

Should electors have a right to break from party lines? What impact could rogue electors have in 2020?

What impact could a SCOTUS ruling about faithless electors have on future presidential elections? If the high court rules in favor of more autonomy for electors, would states have any recourse to deal with electors who break rank?

Is the Electoral College still the best system for choosing a president? Does it work the way the country's founders intended? What are the pros and cons? Is there a viable alternative?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, February 11.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.