Electoral College must follow Voters' preference - Melvin
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Electoral College must follow Voters’ preference

by Melvin Cook

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When we cast a vote for president, our vote eventually goes toward selecting members of the Electoral College, who then cast their votes for president and vice president based on who won the popular vote in each state. With only two partial exceptions, every state appoints a slate of electors chosen by the political party whose candidate has won the popular vote in that state.

What about the possibility of so-called “faithless” electors, who would cast their vote for someone other than the candidate the voters have selected by means of the popular vote? Most states have mechanisms to ensure that the electors vote for the presidential candidate selected by the state’s voters.

About fifteen states have penalties for electors who do not follow this procedure. Three electors in Washington violated their pledge to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. The state imposed a $1,000 penalty on these faithless electors, who then brought suit, claiming that the Constitution gives electors the right to vote for whomever they please. The problem was the U.S. Supreme Court case of Ray v. Blair, 343 U.S. 214, decided in 1952, rejected the argument that the Constitution “demands freedom for the elector to vote his own choice.”

But that case had not involved a penalty, such as the one imposed on the Washington electors. In the case of Chiafolo v. Washington, U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the penalty provision.
The case is worthwhile and surprisingly pleasurable reading, with witty references to the Broadway play “Hamilton” and interesting historical analysis.

It is certainly not a surprising decision and it is not difficult to imagine various chaotic scenarios that could have ensued had the case been decided the other way.

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