The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases about “faithless electors” and whether or not these electors must vote the same way their state voted in a presidential election:
WSJ – The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take a rare look at rules for electing U.S. presidents, saying it will decide whether a state’s appointed presidential electors can vote in the Electoral College for a candidate who didn’t win the state’s popular vote.
The court’s eventual decision could have ramifications for razor-thin presidential elections if enough members of the Electoral College seek to break rank and cast ballots that depart from the will of the voters.
The first of two cases the Supreme Court will weigh in on is from Colorado, where a federal appeals court ruled that an elector can vote how they choose, regardless of how the state voted:
In the 2016 election, one Colorado elector was replaced when he cast a vote for Ohio Republican John Kasich instead of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee who carried the state.
A divided federal appeals court sided with the faithless elector last year, ruling Colorado violated the Constitution by nullifying his vote. That court said that while a state has the power to pick its electors, those electors have the discretion to vote for whom they wish.
The other is from Washington state, where its high court ruled that electors must vote in accordance with the state’s popular vote:
The ruling conflicts with a decision in the Washington case, where its state Supreme Court last year ruled that faithless electors in 2016 could be fined for voting for Colin Powell instead of Mrs. Clinton, the winner of the state’s popular vote.
The Supreme Court must be hearing these cases because these rulings are at odds and there needs to be a resolution. Or they simply can’t let the federal appeals ruling in the Colorado case stand. The good news is there’s plenty of time for them to hear the case before the election. Or maybe that’s the bad news…
The U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear the cases in April, with a decision expected by June, a timeline that allows the justices to resolve the issue before the 2020 election.
The Electoral College was established by the Constitution to choose a president. The political parties generally are in control of selecting a slate of potential electors in each state. Roughly 30 states require its electors to vote according to the state’s popular vote for president.
Let’s hope the Supreme Court doesn’t issue a crazy ruling that would allow electors to vote contrary to their state. After all, if electors can vote however they chose to vote, no matter the will of the people, then what would be the reason to even go out and vote?