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Encyclopedia > Unpledged electors

The Unpledged Elector is an option used for Presidential elections in the United States of America. The elector isn't pledged to a specific candidate. This was most frequently used by Southern states in protest of the candidates of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.


The first modern slates of unpledged electors were fielded in the 1944 election as a protest against Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Texas Regulars and an unpledged slate in South Carolina were both on the ballot but neither group met much success.


In 1948, the disgruntled Southern Democrats cast their ballots for States' Rights Democratic Party candidate Strom Thurmond in a protest against the Civil Rights program of Harry S. Truman. A core of these voters cast their ballots for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 instead of the more liberal Adlai Stevenson.


In 1956, unpledged slates were on the ballot in Alabama (20,150 votes, 4.1% of the vote), Louisiana (44,520 votes, 7.2% of the vote and they won four parishes), Mississippi (42,266 votes, 17.3% of the vote and they won seven counties) and South Carolina (88,509 votes, 29.5% of the vote and 21 counties).


The only times that the Unpledged elector slate has won a state were in Mississippi in 1960 (116,248 votes, 39% of the vote). They then voted for Harry F. Byrd for President and Strom Thurmond for Vice President. Alabama also had unpledged electors in 1960, but they had a mixed slate where six electors were unpledged and five were pledged to Democratic party candidate John F. Kennedy. Louisiana's slate of unpledged electors won 169,572 votes (21% of the vote).


With the rise of the Republican party in the South, the popularity of elected Unpledged electors has decreased. Alabama had a slate of unpledged electors in the 1964 election but they only picked up 30.6% of the vote against Republican Barry Goldwater.


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