U.S. Supreme Court Takes up Presidential Electoral College Dispute

As the 2020 race heats up, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear a dispute involving the complex U.S. presidential election system focusing on whether Electoral College electors are free to break their pledges to back the candidate who wins their state’s popular vote, an act that could upend an election.

The Supreme Court will take up appeals in two cases – from Washington state and Colorado – involving electors who decided to vote in the Electoral College process for someone other than Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 even though she won the popular vote in their states.

The justices will determine if such so-called faithless electors have the discretion to cast Electoral College votes as they see fit or whether states can impose restrictions including with penalties. The case is expected to be argued in April and decided by the end of June.

President Donald Trump is seeking re-election on Nov. 3, with a field of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to challenge him. His administration did not take a side in either case.

“We are glad the Supreme Court has recognized the paramount importance of clearly determining the rules of the road for presidential electors for the upcoming election and all future elections,” said Lawrence Lessig, a lawyer for the faithless electors sanctioned in Washington and Colorado.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, said she hopes the justices will let states enforce their laws.

“Unelected and unaccountable presidential electors should not be allowed to decide the presidential election without regard to voters’ choices and state law,” Griswold said.

The dispute involves the U.S. presidential election system set out in the U.S. Constitution in which the winner is determined not by amassing a majority of the national popular vote but by securing a majority of the electoral votes that are allotted to the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Individuals who serve as Electoral College electors – typically party loyalists – cast these votes. All states, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, have a winner-takes-all system awarding all electors to the presidential candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.

The number of electors in each state is the sum of its two U.S. senators and its number of members in the House of Representatives, based on population size. The District of Columbia, which is not a state, is allotted three electors.

Typically an overlooked formality, the Electoral College took on greater importance after the 2016 election, when 10 electors cast ballots for someone other than their party’s candidate. That was an unusually high number of faithless electors and could have changed the outcome in five of the 58 prior U.S. presidential elections, according to legal papers in one of the appeals filed at the Supreme Court.

LOSING THE POPULAR VOTE

Trump defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by a margin of 304 to 227 Electoral College votes despite losing the popular vote nationally by about 3 million votes. Faithless electors could change the outcome of presidential elections with thinner Electoral College margins.

Electors pledge to vote for their party’s candidate if that person wins the state’s popular vote. At issue in the cases are laws requiring that electors follow through on those pledges.

While 32 states and the District of Columbia have such laws, a handful enforce them by removing and replacing faithless electors, or in some cases, imposing fines.

The plaintiffs challenged the sanctions, saying they were deprived of their rights under the Constitution’s Article II as well as its 12th Amendment, which spell out the Electoral College process.

In Colorado, one elector, Micheal Baca, was replaced and his vote canceled when he sought to vote for Republican John Kasich, Ohio’s former governor. A federal judge dismissed Baca’s challenge, but the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year revived the suit, concluding that Baca’s constitutional rights were violated.

The Washington state case arose after three faithless electors voted for former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, a moderate Republican, instead of Clinton. They each were fined $1,000 for their defiance, which they called the first such penalty in U.S. history. The Washington Supreme Court in 2019 upheld the fines.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Responses

  1. The framers of the Constitution specifically added Electorates as a way to preventing populous vote from being allowed to steal an election
    for instance, think of the absurd extreme of an election in which every Californian, every Illinoisan, and every New Yorkian voted for Bozo.
    Bozo in just three states alone would have more votes than any President in history.
    thus you would only need to rig a couple of state elections to steal the Presidency.

    thus the Electoral College was established and each member is representing a very small number. there wasn’t any requirements as to WHO they could vote for because IF IT IS REQUIRED, THEN THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS USELESS thus, the members can vote as their conscious dictates. despite what deluded voters are misled to think.

    1. just ten states contain more people than all the other 40 PLUS possessions and D.C. combined

  2. “Faithless electors” who vote against the will of the electorate (see how those words are related?) should not only have their votes reversed but should face fines and/or prosecution.

    It is literally a betrayal of office, their duties, and the electorate.

  3. What is the use in us voting for electoral college constituents if they are going to vote their will over the will of those who voted for these chumps anyway? The USSC should classify such an act as treason and carry a minimum jail time of 4 years (same term as the POTUS), Maybe then they will take their jobs seriously. In most states the names of the electoral college candidates are not on the ballot, they are chose by the state’s central Democrat or Republican committees. All that the public sees on the ballot is the name of the several candidates for POTUS.

  4. Trump won the popular vote in my state (Indiana). The states elect the POTUS, not the nation as a whole. And IMO the Electors seem redundant now. In the past, a state voted, then the Electors traveled to Washington to cast their vote for POTUS based on who won their state. That process is not needed now, as we know instantly who won in any state.

  5. they do away with the electoral college a handful of states would control the election. new york, florida, cali, ect.

    1. It would come to cities against rural. Young against old. Civil war would begin.

    2. Yes, that is exactly why the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College. There are 3,141 counties in the United States.

      Trump won 3,084 of them.

      Clinton won 57.

      There are 62 counties in New York State.

      Trump won 46 of them.

      Clinton won 16.

      Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes.

      In the 5 counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens) Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond)

      Therefore these 5 counties alone, more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.

      These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles.

      The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles.

      When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election.

      Large, densely populated Democrat cities (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc.) DO NOT and SHOULD NOT speak for the rest of our country!

      And…it’s been verified and documented that those aforementioned 319 square miles are where the majority of our nation’s problems foment.

  6. Yes let’s just set it up so the liberal Democrat always wins hell let’s just abolish the republican party while we’re at it. Let’s just make the next Democratic president the president for life and abolish ICE and the 2nd amendment oh and the 1st when you aren’t agreeing with them. That sounds like the America the founders fought for they wanted new monarchs to Lord over us with their enlightened liberal ways.

  7. 4 years later they still can’t get over the cankles lost the election…maybe if we rig the election, we can win. Impeachment is floundering, the majority of Americans despise us, Antifa hasn’t been able to beat enough people, the Deep State has been exposed…oh yeah let’s work at throwing the election.

    1. You don’t seem to realize that all four of these faithless electors tried to go against their state’s vote and vote for someone in what used to be the Republican party, both Collin Powell and Kaisich.

  8. Without the electoral system the northeast and the entire west coasts would elect our presidents. Liberals infest these areas. This is called Liberal Tyranny, as any Conservative voters in these states are ignored completely. The only fair way is to apportion electoral votes in accordance with all the state’s voters, not have the Liberals hog them all. A more fair way, one that Liberals would solidly oppose is do it by county to avoid liberal bastions in big cities determining who the state will go for. Each state country gets one vote, no matter the size. Each country holds an election and the winners of each country are forwarded to state election headquarters. Whichever candidate gets the most country votes, that is the way the state”s electors go, or apportion the electoral votes accordingly. This system could be used all over the country. That way EVERYBODY’s vote counts, not only the northeast and west coasts. Liberal tyranny is when one group controls the entire vote to the exclusion of the rest of the state or country.

  9. This. Is. Priceless! The left NEVER understand boomerang. One of the first things the left did was start trying to get electors to change their Trump votes to Clinton votes. They worked so freaking hard, harassed electors, published lists, you name it. Now look what they’re doing. This is one of the funniest things ever!

    1. You don’t seem to realize that all four of these faithless electors tried to go against their state’s vote and vote for someone in what used to be the Republican party, both Collin Powell and Kaisich.

  10. These Electoral Collage electors are welcome to vote for whoever they want to vote for, all they have to do is step down and give up their position as an elector and vote as any other citizen does. When they accept the position as an Elector they agree to vote for the majority vote receiver that the average citizens of their respective states have chosen. If they are allowed to vote for whoever they want then that would mean that every other voters vote is null & void. That is why the Founders created the Electoral Collage and the Electors positions, to assure that the will of the people and state is equally represented and their will upheld. No small group of people should be allowed to override the will of the majority of the people in EACH state. If this is allowed then we should just go ahead and “Burn the Constitution, Flag, Seize everyone’s property and build the gulag’s. Because the Republic is NO MORE.
    The Electoral Collage was created to make sure one state doesn’t have more influence/power that another state, that is why a President can be elected without the majority of votes. Lets just face it, our founders were MUCH smarter that the current crop of leaders and lets just say it the current academics we have.

    1. “The Founders created the Electoral Collage and the Electors positions, to assure that the will of the people and state is equally represented and their will upheld.”

      That’s true. All of the people of that state and not just those whose voices have not been marginalized so as not to have a voice.

    2. your right that the founding fathers were smarter, but the ones today are more CORRUPT

  11. This would not be an issue for the whiny Democrats if Hillary’s fat a** was sitting in the White House. In the very chair Bill …. never mind.

  12. The idea of the flakes in Ca. and NY Deciding who is President doesn’t appeal to me.

  13. The electoral college is all that prevents mega concentration of liberals forcing the rest of us to suffer under their failed policies.

  14. Since we are a democratic republic, I believe that the winner take all approach most closely aligns with the balance of power between the states. I hope they also address the states that have laws that require electors to vote for the national vote winner regardless of how their state votes. Would be a problem for me if candidate a wins my state but all electoral votes go to candidate b because they won California and New York.

    1. Join the discussion…We are not a democratic republic. We are a representative republic. Anything democratic means that one person over 50% rules. That is called mob rule. Stop using the word democratic to explain our form of government.

  15. There shouldn’t even be a dispute about the issue of faith to the elector commitment to cast his/her vote for the winner of the popular vote in his state.

    The mere possibility that pressure in the form of bribery or intimidation by threat of physical harm to the elector or his family is sufficient to render this question moot. AN ELECTOR MUST NOT BE PERMITTED TO CAST A VOTE FOR ANYONE OTHER THAN THE VICTOR OF THE ELECTION IN THE ELECTOR’S STATE!

    1. So you see nothing wrong with big inner city populations making all the decisions for rural counties that vote differently? You are telling me the popular vote is all you need and the electoral, winner take all vote, is no longer necessary. Right?

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