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Disgruntled Activists May Target Electors

When Americans cast their ballot, they are actually voting for a block of electors who, in turn, vote for a certain presidential candidate. In every state except Maine and Nebraska, the winner of the popular vote earns all of the state’s Electoral College votes.

Seven states have laws that punish so-called faithless electors and more than 20 other states bind electors by party pledge, though punishments for deviation are minimal.  

Still, laws suggest that the two parties take great pains to prevent faithless voting.

“It’s not like [the electors] are necessarily entrenched party leaders who you can always rely on,” Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, a nonprofit that advocates a switch to a national popular vote. “That fear is out there, though it hasn’t really ever played out in history.”

Correction: Nov. 5, 5:15 p.m.

An earlier version of this story gave the wrong name for an Electoral College expert at Ohio Northern University. His name is Robert Alexander.

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