WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Electoral College has faced criticism in recent years, with some presidential candidates winning the popular vote but losing the election.
WWAY wanted to explore how exactly the electoral college works, and what stops an elector from going against the will of their state.
“The electoral college like many things at the nation’s founding with the constitution was the result of a series of compromises,” said Dr. Aaron King, political science professor at UNCW. “Some people wanted to select the president by popular vote, other people wanted the state legislators to select the president.”
The electoral college was established in the Constitution of the United States as a way to balance electoral power between states with big and small populations. King says it was created under the principles of federalism.
“States control how those electors are selected,” King said. “We know with the exception of two states, Maine and Nebraska, states are winner take all.”
The number of electors in any state is equal to the number of U.S. senators and representatives that state has in Congress. In North Carolina that number is 15, and each party selects its own group of electors.
President Donald Trump won the election in North Carolina, so the electors were chosen by the North Carolina Republican Party.
In the past, there have been concerns about electors not following the will of the people. King says this is unlikely.
“These would be referred to as faithless electors, this has always been a concern with the electoral college, although in practice there’s only been several dozen instances and it’s never affected the outcome of the race,” King said.
Elector Jonathan Fletcher, representing North Carolina’s fifth congressional district, says it is essentially impossible for that to happen in our state.
“Even in the event that I wanted to vote for somebody else, if I had done that, number one my vote would have been invalidated, number two I would have been kicked out of the electoral college, number three they would have replaced me with somebody else that would have cast the vote correctly, and number four I would have gotten a $10,000 fine,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher, a republican elector who cast his vote for President Trump, says he does still have concerns about election fraud but will accept the final results.
“I don’t know that its enough that it would have changed the outcome,” he said. “I do know that at the end of the day, once those votes are counted and congress certifies the vote, wherever it lands, that’s the outcome that I’m going to accept.”
Click here to learn more about the Electoral College.