Indiana News

Possible Elector Defections a Reminder of Indirect Election of President

Romney electors in Nevada, Texas have threatened to withhold votes

9/18/2012

Mitt Romney is expected to carry Indiana's 11 electoral votes. But whether he actually does depends not only on how many votes he gets, but on the 11 electors.

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Ron Paul loyalists in Texas and Nevada are threatening to withhold their votes for Mitt Romney if he carries their states. A third, in Iowa, resigned as an elector after concluding she couldn't carry out her pledge. The possible defections are a reminder that the electoral votes aren't official until the actual electors meet a month after Election Day.

Greenfield Senator Beverly Gard has twice been a Republican elector -- including 2000, when George W. Bush's razor-thin victory in the Electoral College prompted activists to bombard Bush electors with calls and emails, trying to sway the two votes needed to deny Bush a majority and throw the election into the House of Representatives. Gard says so many messages flooded into her state Senate email account that it crashed the system.

24 states, including Nevada, have laws requiring electors to keep their pledges. Republican Senator Joe Zakas of Granger has introduced several bills attempting to make Indiana the 25th. Unlike some states which make it a crime to vote for a different candidate, Zakas's bill would simply treat such a vote as the elector's resignation, with a new elector stepping in.

There have been single "faithless electors" in eight of the last 14 elections, but there hasn't been more than one since 1836. That's also the only time they affected the election -- Virginia's electors withheld their votes for Martin Van Buren's running mate Richard Johnson, and threw the election into the Senate.

Zakas and Gard say there's an expectation that electors will execute voters' wishes. Gard warns if any Romney electors carry out their threat to defect, it'll torpedo their chance of holding any significant role in the party again.

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