Should Members Of The Electoral College Be Allowed To Vote Their Conscience?
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?
- George Edwards, political science professor at Texas A&M University and Electoral College expert
- Jesse Wegman, New York Times editorial board member and author of forthcoming book "Let The People Pick The President"
- Eugene Mazo, election law scholar and visiting associate professor of law at Rutgers University
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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, February 11.