January 26, 2020

Why Do We Have an Electoral College Again?
Who elects the president of the United States?In a democracy, that shouldn't be a trick question. Thanks to the Electoral College, it seems like one. The American people cast their ballots on a Tuesday in early November, but on a national level that vote is legally meaningless. The real election happens about six weeks later, when 538 presidential electors -- most of them average citizens chosen by local party leaders -- meet in their respective state capitals and cast their ballots.Nearly always, the electors vote for the candidate who won the most popular votes in their state. But do they have to? That's the question that the Supreme Court has agreed to answer in two related cases it will hear this spring. The cases -- one from Colorado and one from Washington -- raise an alarming prospect: Can presidential electors vote for whomever they please, disregarding what the voters of their state said?More than 160 "faithless electors" have chosen to go this route since the nation's founding, a tiny fraction of all electoral votes in history. But the issue has become freshly relevant because of a concerted effort to persuade dozens of Republican electors in 2016 to switch their votes to prevent Donald Trump from taking the White House. In the end, 10 electors voted or tried to vote for someone other than their state's popular-vote winner -- the most in a single election in more than a century. (In 1872, 63 electors went against their pledge to vote for Horace Greeley, the Liberal Republican candidate, but that was because Greeley died shortly after Election Day.)Even though faithless electors have never come close to changing the outcome of an election, more than two dozen states have passed laws requiring their electors to vote for the state's popular-vote winner. Some punish those who don't, while others replace faithless electors with ones who will do the job they pledged to do.Last May, Washington state's Supreme Court ruled that the state had the power to impose a $1,000 fine on its four faithless electors, on the ground that the Constitution gives the states total authority to decide how to appoint their electors.Three months later, a federal appeals court in Denver went the opposite way, ruling that the founders clearly intended for electors to act independently and vote according to their consciences, not to the dictates of any political party. Once a state appoints an elector, the court said, its power over that elector ends. They cannot punish someone, or replace him or her, for voting a certain way.The Constitution doesn't include any explicit guidance on the matter. So who's right? In a way, they both are.The framers of the Constitution, and the states that ratified it, clearly expected electors to vote as they pleased. In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that electors would be men "selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass" and "most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations."And yet, the Electoral College has almost never worked that way in practice. Less than a decade after the Constitution was drafted, the framers' idea of an independent elector was effectively kaput. As soon as national political parties took shape, elections became a partisan competition, and it was only logical that electors would start to take sides. In the election of 1796, electors were already pledging themselves either to John Adams, the sitting vice president and Federalist, or to Thomas Jefferson, the former secretary of state and Democratic-Republican. When one elector pledged to Adams changed his mind and voted for Jefferson, Federalists were outraged. One wrote, "Do I choose Samuel Miles to determine for me whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferson shall be President? No, I choose him to act, not to think."That's been the operating assumption ever since, and it is almost never questioned. Even the term "faithless" is revealing: What faith is an elector who votes his or her conscience breaking? Didn't the founders intend electors to be faithful above all to the country?Yes -- and yet they are not now and essentially never have been. For this reason, however the Supreme Court resolves the issue, which it will do by early summer, little will change in practice. Political parties and their candidates, who currently choose their own slate of electors in each state, are already careful about selecting people for their partisan loyalty. That selection process will only become stricter if the court rules that states may not interfere in any way with electors' votes.And faithless electors are unlikely to affect the outcome even if the Electoral College tally is very close, as it was in 2000, when as few as three Republican electors could have broken their pledges and handed the presidency to the Democratic nominee, Al Gore, who won the most votes nationwide. None did.That makes sense. Americans would rightly revolt if a handful of people they'd never heard of ignored their votes and decided the election for themselves. It's almost as if we believe that we, the people, should be voting directly for the president -- the only official whose job it is to represent all of us equally, wherever we live. Which raises the question of why we still have an Electoral College at all.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Joe Exotic's Weed Line Packaging Features Tiger Stripes, Pride Flag | TMZ
July 26, 2021
o3Tqh9Qvms8
Alexandra Shipp Says Sean Penn Saving Lives with COVID Vaccination Demand | TMZ
July 24, 2021
ZdOVlGE9vDc
Actor Jonathan Lipnicki Uses MMA Skills to Protect Orthodox Jews | TMZ
July 24, 2021
NT4-6uhCb-M
Gwen Stefani's wedding to Blake Shelton | Hooked Up To Hitched | Page Six Celebrity News
July 26, 2021
LJG9koJCWyY
Are Alex Rodriguez and NFL reporter Melanie Collins dating? | Page Six Celebrity News
July 26, 2021
Ewg_Fs3yE7k
Kate Beckinsale reunites with daughter after 2 years apart due to COVID-19 | Page Six Celebrity News
July 26, 2021
pKWTC-s_ZLk
Baby B-Day Blowup, Hair Exorcism & Love at First Strip - "Nightly Pop" 07/26/21 | E! News
July 26, 2021
c9NmkLtHClU
J.Lo's Dueling B-Days, Kanye's Air for Sale & Kyle's Buzz Scare - "Nightly Pop" 07/26/21 | E! News
July 26, 2021
fKkCJrnmwlk
Britney Spears Files to Replace Father Jamie Spears as Conservator | E! News
July 26, 2021
INcO34wwW3s
The Cast of Disney's 'Jungle Cruise' Talk Turning The Iconic Ride Into a Film!
July 25, 2021
IAHRi18ccNw
Variety's 'The Take': COVID issues in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein back in court, and Marvel News
July 22, 2021
IdAdqZc9UlA
The 'Never Have I Ever' Cast Weigh Their "Pros and Cons" of Being in a TV Love Triangle
July 21, 2021
Z_spcUnmqTE
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.