News reports have declared that President Bush has won re-election. But, technically, that is not true. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Electoral College will elect the president in December. VOA's Greg Flakus in Houston spoke to one of the electors who will be casting a vote for Mr. Bush in his home state of Texas.
The electoral system remains obscure to most Americans because the actual voting gets most of the attention. The electoral voting is seen as a formality that is carried out to meet the requirements of the Constitution, but that merely follows the results from each state's election.
But the process is meaningful to the 405 people around the country who are serving as electors this year and who will meet in their state capitals in December to cast their votes. The rules for selecting electors vary from state to state, but here in Texas a slate of electors is chosen by each party months before the election. The party that wins the state then sends its electors to the state capital of Austin on December 14 to cast their votes.
One of the 34 electors who will be there this year is , Republican County Chairman in Midland, Texas, and a close friend of President Bush and his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, who met and were wed in Midland in 1977. Ms. Brannon says she was chosen as elector for the 11th congressional district by fellow Republicans at the party's Texas state convention in May.
"All of the people that were delegates from the 11th congressional district were in one big room and several people gave speeches on my behalf and then there was a vote," she said. "I was elected unanimously to receive this honor, and I am very proud of it and I am really looking forward to it."
In some states electors are bound to vote for the candidate who won their state's presidential vote, but there have been a few cases in history of electors changing their vote. This has never changed the outcome of a presidential election, however, and Sue Brannon says it is unlikely it ever would.
"[In] Texas [one] is not bound to cast the vote for the person that the convention requested, but it would be very unusual for you not to," she added. "You would really have to be a turncoat (traitor) to change your mind."
Ms. Brannon says a former elector warned her that there will be people trying to change her mind, but she says her loyalty to the Republican party and her personal friendship with the Bush family will keep her steadfast.
"I will be receiving many letters and telephone calls and there will be people trying to bribe me, but I am a dyed-in-the-wool [dedicated] Bush friend and almost feel like a family member, so there is no changing my mind," she noted.
Ms. Brannon represents the newest congressional district in Texas. The number of electors in each state is equal to that state's representation in Congress. Texas has 32 congressional districts and two senate seats, so it is entitled to 34 electors. Congressional representation is based on population, so California, the most populous state, has the most electors (55). Since each state has two senators and at least one congressional representative, the least number of electoral votes a state can have is three.
Two states, Maine and Nebraska, allow for proportionate distribution of electoral votes based on election results, all others grant the total number of electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state. A measure that would have allowed for proportional distribution of electoral votes in Colorado was defeated on Tuesday.