Supreme Court Puts an End to Faithless Electors

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The Supreme Court says that states can require electors to vote for the presidential candidate they’re supposed to vote for:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that states may require presidential electors to support the winner of the popular vote and punish or replace those who don’t, settling a disputed issue in advance of this fall’s election.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court, and settled the disputed “faithless elector” issue before it affected the coming presidential contest. The Washington state law at issue “reflects a tradition more than two centuries old,” she wrote. “In that practice, electors are not free agents; they are to vote for the candidate whom the state’s voters have chosen.”

This has two consequences. First, states can join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and make it stick. Under the terms of the NPVIC, electors are required to vote for the winner of the popular vote, but only if states with a majority of electors have joined the compact. Today’s ruling makes this legal and enforceable.

Second, it puts an end to “faithless” electors, who vote for Ron Paul or Colin Powell or whoever they think makes the cutest protest statement. In 2016, ten electors tried to cast faithless votes, and it’s time for this to stop. We live in an era where it’s common to blow up political norms, and this could easily have gotten out of hand. Far better to put a hammer on it now than later, when it might actually affect an election. All that’s left now is for states to follow up and write laws requiring electors to do what they’re supposed to do.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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