SCOTUS is going to hear a case about whether states can punish electors who are “faithless”that is don’t give their vote to the winner of the popular vote in their state.
At the same time, though we don’t hear much about it, a number of states (i think 15 ) have entered into some kinda pact that their electors will vote for the winner of the nationwide popular vote. (This is incomprehensible: why would smaller states want to give up the very provision in the fed constitution which safeguards their power? But anyway..)
Have you ever read the US Constitution Art II, Sec 1, paras 2-4, as amended by Amendment XII (1804)?It does not say anything about for whom the electors must vote. The electors are appointed in a manner determined by each state’s legislature. Then as for the rest, it sets out when anD where they meet, and various other contingencies.
My understanding, either from what my parents said or from som long-ago civics class, is that when we vote for a presidential candidate, we are really voting for electors committed to him or her. (It now seems like an unpardonable omission, but we didn’t study these clauses in law school.)
But I’m tellin ya, just a cold reading of the constitution gives me the impression that the electors can indeed vote for whom they choose. That’s certainly what people thought when we endured all that crap about lobbying the electors to “vote your conscience”,after Trump won. A lotta ink was bled, and I kept hoping, but I did t read anything that said it wasn’t possible or legal. There were a few defectors, from both sides. Is that this case is about, whether their states can sanction those electors? With what, a fine? Prison?
But, when and where do electors ever pledge their faith to a certain candidate, or even to the populace of their state? Presumably they are called “faithless electors” because they’ve broken faith with some entity: their state‘s voters, the legislature which appointed them.
I read that there are 30 states that by legislation require electors to vote for the state’s popular vote winner, and that just by convention, electors in the other states have usually done so.
Doesn’t it HAVE to remain that way? I mean, if the interstate pact people win, the presidency will always be determined by NY and CA. But if the “untethered Elector” people win, uh, it would be possible we could end up with a president chosen solely by the electoral college no matter whom the people had chosen. Wouldn’t it?
At least, that’s how it looks from my somewhat belated perusal of our great document.
Now obviously, the second scenario I envision above could never be allowed to transpire. So, one way or another, we’re gonna get the first scenario: president chosen by popular vote alone. Amending the constitution is a cumbersome process; our foes won’t eliminate the electoral college that way. But they’re quietly working to do it by the interstate compact method. Whether this is the kind of interstate compact that requires congressional approval is debatable. But, um ,it isn’t really being debated is it, not nationwide.
And if SCOTUS says, right, the Constitution does not say states can dictate for whom electors will vote, it Only says how many the state legislature can appoint, and their qualifications (and this is true) well, that’ll be a big shot in the arm for the interstate compact people, coming like a thief in the night, and the structure of the US as a “republic”rather than a direct democracy, will be changed in a twinkling, with no one having known the day or the hour.