Judiciary

What to Do With 'Faithless Electors'

SCOTUS weighs arguments in a case that could decide a presidential election.

Brian Mark Weber · May 15, 2020

In less than six months, Americans will choose our next president. And while the China Virus is currently sparking a debate over the Left’s push to allow voting by mail, there’s another issue that could affect the outcome of the 2020 election: “faithless electors.”

Traditionally, each of a state’s electors pledges to vote for the winner of that state’s popular vote. This wasn’t a problem until 2016, when Donald Trump shocked the political world by winning the Republican nomination, then shocked the rest of the world by winning the presidency.

Unable to accept the notion of a President Trump, four Democrat electors (three from Washington and one from Colorado) voted for candidates who didn’t win their state’s popular vote. These so-called Hamilton Electors (a name they misappropriated from Hamilton’s Federalist No. 68) wanted to gather enough votes from electors of both parties to choose a Republican alternative to Trump or reduce Trump’s Electoral College vote count below 270 and throw the election into the House of Representatives. In response, Washington fined its electors and Colorado negated the rogue elector’s vote. These electors responded by doing what progressives naturally do: suing.

In all, 10 electors (eight Democrat electors and two odd Texans who voted for John Kasich and Ron Paul) refused to vote for their state’s winner. Three of these 10 votes were corrected by their respective states, but seven were not, which accounts for Trump’s winning total of 304-227. But what if that margin had been tighter?

“Rogue electoral votes could be decisive to the November election if the winner commands a thin margin in the Electoral College,” explains The Washington Free Beacon’s Kevin Daley. This seems more likely with a recent poll showing nearly a quarter of Republicans still wanting someone other than Trump on the Republican ballot in 2020. “While a federal appeals court ruled the electors are free to vote as they please,” Daley adds, “the states say binding electors to the popular vote is essential for ensuring public faith in elections.”

Keep in mind that the Hamilton Electors movement is one of several current leftist assaults on the Electoral College, including the National Popular Vote Movement. Public support for both schemes might possibly surge if rogue electors either overturned an election or let the House decide. Of course, the goal here isn’t about taking a stand for what’s right; it’s about undermining public faith in our institutions.

Rightfully, the Supreme Court is stepping in to deliberate the constitutionality of the issue. “Supreme Court justices voiced concerns Wednesday about the chaos that could ensue if Electoral College’s presidential electors could go rogue,” The Washington Times reports. “The conservative and liberal wings of the high court both appeared skeptical about siding with the faithless electors.”

That’s a good sign. Were the Court to instead rule in favor of faithless electors, Reason’s Keith Whittington argues, “It might have the effect of shifting the political culture and encouraging future lobbying campaigns to influence the electors. It would be a disaster if presidential electors ever took it upon themselves to change the outcome of a presidential election.”

All of this creates a conundrum for constitutional conservatives who support maintaining the integrity of the Electoral College but also realize that some of our Founding Fathers believed electors should have the freedom to vote their conscience.

The problem is that some of today’s electors are agenda-driven ideologues, not the thoughtful and principled statesmen that Alexander Hamilton envisioned. Let’s hope the Supreme Court puts a stop to this nonsense and thereby ensures that the votes of the American people are protected, just as they have been for more than two centuries.

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