The SCOTUS ruling on "faithless electors," explained

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They need to get rid of this relic entirely, but for the moment I’ll take whatever reforms like this that make it less able to accomplish its undemocratic and racist purpose.


One thing that bothers me about that is why keep it personified by picking someone to represent a group of voters, but at same time banning them to act as a person and forcing them to just follow a script.
Isn’t it better to just remove the delegates as persons and just make a count of the states votes?


how the Electoral College works

Spoiler: it doesn’t. See: November 8, 2016, et al.

and why it is in place

Because it’s always been there, and it helps otherwise unelectable people attain powerful positions. Same as it ever was.


Was that the founding fathers’ idea?

Undemocratic and racist I grant you, but I’m not sure barring faithless electors does that much to change that either way.

Arguably, this makes things worse, since presumably this case was coming up in response to the handful of faithless electors who actually tried to organize and do something about Trump in 2016. If there was ever a time for the electors to step up to the plate and do their duty as originally envisioned, it was then. And yet, in the end, there were only 10 of them. So it’s pretty clear that, in practice, electors were already just partisan automatons anyway.

I wonder what this decision (or rather, the original 1896 one) means for something like a Horace Greeley situation. I suppose the individual state laws probably have provisions for that.


The Supreme Court simply reaffirmed the power of states over their electoral votes.

The ruling says electors must abide by state laws and that such laws are constitutional.

Now 48 states have winner-take-all state laws for awarding electoral votes to the statewide winner.
2 award one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, and two electoral votes statewide.
Neither method is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

Article II, Section 1
“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

The National Popular Vote bill is 73% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country. The bill changes state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

It requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes. All of the electors from the enacting states would be required to vote for the winner of the most national popular votes.

All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

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The Supreme Court reaffirmed the power of states over their electoral votes.

Starting in 1796, political parties began nominating presidential and vice-presidential candidates on a centralized basis and began actively campaigning for their nominees throughout the country. As a result, presidential electors necessarily became rubberstamps for the choices made by the parties. “[W]hether chosen by the legislatures or by popular suffrage on general ticket or in districts, [the presidential electors] were so chosen simply to register the will of the appointing power.”
McPherson v. Blacker . 146 U.S. 1 at 36. 1892.

Presidential electors have been expected to vote for the candidates nominated by their party—that is, “to act, not to think.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson summarized the history of presidential electors as follows in the 1952 case of Ray v. Blair :

“No one faithful to our history can deny that the plan originally contemplated, what is implicit in its text, that electors would be free agents, to exercise an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the men best qualified for the Nation’s highest offices.…

“This arrangement miscarried. Electors, although often personally eminent, independent, and respectable, officially become voluntary party lackeys and intellectual nonentities"


The electors have been and will be dedicated party activist supporters of the winning party’s candidate who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

There have been 24,067 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 31 have been cast in a deviant way, for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party (one clear faithless elector, 29 grand-standing votes, and one accidental vote). 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome.

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