AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texans will go to the polls Tuesday to decide which slate of people will cast their ballot for president: a team of 38 Republicans or Democrats. The electoral college was put in place by America’s founding fathers and it continues to this day.
Texas electors aren’t technically bound to vote for the way Texans do. For a majority of electors and to win the presidency you need 270 out of 538. All of those electors were chosen by party members who will make the choice next month.
“It really has not come up, to the best of my knowledge,and I’ve been here for 30 years,” said Curt Nelson, a life-long Republican and member of the Bexar County GOP. When Texans go to the polls, technically, they’ll be voting for this man along with 37 others.
“Candidly I don’t think folks realize they’re voting for the electors to cast the ballot for president,” said Nelson.
He ran and was elected at the Republican State Convention earlier this year. After the votes are in, the winning side will meet at the Texas Capitol on Dec. 19 to cast their votes. The ballot will remain sealed until early January at a joint session of the U.S. House and Senate. But what happens when an elector goes against the will of the people.
It’s known as a “faithless elector” and 14 states have had it happen to them. Twenty-six states have laws requiring electors to vote the way the people voted. Texas isn’t one of them.
A spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office says the legislature has never taken it up because it’s never happened. They say Texas doesn’t have a history of making laws about problems that haven’t come up. But what’s stopping it from happening this year?
“I was required to sign an affidavit with my party saying that I would cast my ballot based upon the will of the people here,” said Nelson, describing a policy years in place for both parties.
Texas has 38 electoral votes: One for each of the 36 congressional districts and 2 at large for our two U.S. senators. It is worth noting electoral college controversy has come into play before. The election of 1876, electing President Rutherford B. Hayes, was one of the most contentious. Hays lost the popular vote, but he defeated Samuel Tilden by one electoral vote.
That was only because of a deal, where 20 disputed electoral votes all went to Hays. In exchange, the Republicans promised to take federal troops out of southern states and end “Reconstruction” in the South.
That election is still the highest voter turnout percentage in American history at more than 80 percent.