Your questions, answered: What keeps an elector from not following the popular vote in the state?
From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf
CNN's Zachary B. Wolf is answering questions from readers about the Electoral College. You can ask your question here.
Here's a question from Michael in Tucson, Arizona:
What is the mandate that an elector HAS to vote with the popular vote in state/district? What keeps them from not following the popular vote in the state?
This is a great question, since there are sometimes so-called “faithless electors” who go their own way and vote in the electoral college for someone who didn’t win their state’s election.
There have never been more than a handful of these and in most states they face penalties — fines, for instance — for not respecting the voters. One other backstop to the process is that the political parties or campaigns pick their slates of electors. Also, you make a good distinction between states and districts.
Every state gives their electors to the winner of the popular vote except two. Nebraska and Maine give two electors to the winner of the state and the others to winners of various congressional districts.
Joe Biden won Maine but President Trump got an electoral vote there. Trump won Nebraska, but Biden got an Electoral College vote there.
It’s also important to remember that every state has slightly different rules relating to their elections and the Electoral College.
The National Association of Secretaries of State has a roundup of each state’s laws. See it here.