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FOX 11 Investigates: Wisconsin's Electoral College

FOX 11 Investigates Wisconsin's Electoral College. (WLUK)

(WLUK) -- You may have been one of the nearly three-million people in Wisconsin to vote in the presidential election. But only 10 people in the state will actually get to select the next president.

That happens on December 19 when members of the Electoral College will cast their ballot in Madison. Who are the electors in Wisconsin?

One is Republican Dan Feyen. On November 8, Feyen was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. Two days later, he received a call reminding him of another important position he was selected for months earlier.

"I'm like, oh my God, I forgot about that. That's pretty cool," Feyen told FOX 11.

The Electoral College is the way we elect a president. There are a total 538 electors across the country. The number of electoral votes for each state is determined by the number of seats that state has in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

For example, Wisconsin has two senators and eight members of the House, for a total of 10 electoral votes. The candidate who receives at least 270 electoral votes wins the presidency. The national popular vote doesn't matter.

Bill Berglund from Sturgeon Bay is another member of the Electoral College.

"I'm pleased to be chosen," Berglund said. "It is an honor."

What Berglund and Feyen have in common, along with all of the other Wisconsin electors, is that they are members of the executive committee for the state Republican Party.

Before each presidential election, each political party puts together a list of people who could serve on the Electoral College. The party whose candidate wins the popular vote in the state gets to use its group of electors. Those electors are bound by state law to support the party's nominee. Since Donald Trump won the popular vote in Wisconsin, the electors are chosen by the Republican party.

That hasn't stopped some people from lobbying the electors in Wisconsin, and across the country, to vote for Hillary Clinton. More than 4.5 million people have signed a petition on the change.org website urging electors to vote for Clinton.

Feyen says he's received four to five thousand emails asking him to vote for Clinton.

"They're very passionate people and I give them credit for being passionate but these are the same people that were whining about Donald Trump not accepting the results of an election. Now they're sending me emails asking me to change my vote because they don't like the results of the election," Feyen said.

Berglund has also been asked to cast his ballot for Clinton.

When asked what he tells people who ask him to change his vote, Berglund replied, "I'm voting the will of the people. They're the ones that chose Trump."

Lawrence University Government Professor Arnold Shober says, in theory, the electors could change their mind.

"There are about 30 or so states that have laws requiring the electors to vote for the candidate that voters say. The Supreme Court has suggested that those are not enforceable," Shober said. "So electors could go renegade and vote for whomever they wish. There's no constitutional reason they have to respect the will of the people in the state."

But since the electors are chosen by their political party, Shober says he doesn't expect them to vote for a different candidate.

"They're often picked for party loyalty, dedication to party ideals. So they are true believers. To convince them to vote another way, there would have to be some substantial change in their perception of the candidates or their perception of the job," Shober said.

"I think people do what they feel like they need to do. I think it's a noble gesture but there is absolutely no guarantee that that will happen," said Mary Ginnebaugh. She was chosen to serve as an elector for the Democratic Party in Wisconsin.

While she is not happy with how the election turned out, she doesn't think the effort to lobby electors will have much of an impact.

When asked if she could imagine electors changing their vote, Ginnebaugh replied, "No. I can't, especially individuals that are nominated to serve as part of the Electoral College. These are committed people to the Republican Party as I am committed to the Democratic Party."

Feyen says the effort won't have any impact on the outcome of the election, especially in Wisconsin.

"It's the will of the people of Wisconsin. (Trump) won Wisconsin and he will be getting my vote on December 19," Feyen said.

Electors who vote for a candidate from a different party are referred to as "faithless electors" and they're pretty rare. According to the national archives, more than 99% of electors have voted for the candidate they were pledged to support.

Congress will meet on January 6 to count the electoral votes. The inauguration of the next president is held two weeks later, on January 20.

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