The United States Supreme Court has ruled that states can decide for presidential electors to vote for the candidate who has a state’s majority vote, and penalize electors who go against the state’s choice by voting another candidate.
The Monday ruling comes as the 2020 presidential election heats up to reduce the chance of Electoral College crisis as some electors could vote against their state’s preferred candidate to whom they are pledged to support.
Speaking for the court, Justice Elena Kagan, wrote, “The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee — and the state voters’ choice — for president.”
The court’s decision was a defeat for some faithless electors who might go rogue as members of the Electoral College in electing presidents in the nationwide popular vote.
On the other hand, it is a win for electoral officials who have always entertained fear that if rogue electors were empowered there would be electoral crisis.
Kagan also said that it is constitutional for states to use discretion to influence presidential electors’ votes to prevent them from going rogue.
“Nothing in the Constitution expressly prohibits states from taking away president electors’ voting discretion.” The ruling aligns with “the trust of a nation that here, We the People rule,” said Kagan.
The court ruling would prevent the 2016 scenario of electors from Colorado and Washington who went rogue choosing presidential candidate against their state’s choice. The electors were penalized for their actions though.
Micheal Baca from Colorado cast his vote for the former Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich instead of Hillary Clinton who had the majority vote in the state.
Similarly three of the 12 electors from Washington went rogue and voted for the former secretary of state, Colin Powell against the state candidate, Hillary Clinton who won the most vote.
In 32 states there are laws in place that requires presidential electors to pledge their votes for their state’s preferred candidate who has the most votes. Fifteen of the states impose penalty on any electors who act otherwise.
Kagan said that the court recognize the pledge saying electors has no freedom to vote any candidates of their own choice.
“This Court upheld such a pledge requirement decades ago, rejecting the argument that the Constitution ‘demands absolute freedom for the elector to vote his own choice,” write Kagan.
Kagan noted that in the country’s 244 years of electoral history, there have been 180 faithless votes out of 23,000 for either president or vice president elections.
She however stated that the action of the faithless electors have not proved significant over the years but could prove crucial in a very close race.