Americans have the unique privilege of voting for the President of the United States, but what use is that right if “electors” abuse their power and defect from the people’s choice? The Supreme Court was recently faced with the decision of whether to implement consequences for electors that go rogue against the will of the people.
On Monday, just after the 4th of July, the Supreme Court unanimously voted 9-0 that two states were within their Constitutional rights to punish electors who voted against the people’s decision. The ruling upholds state laws that require electors to vote for the popular winner in their state’s presidential race. For once, the justices were not compelled to vote by political leaning; instead, they came together in the interest of protecting the democratic voting system that sets America apart.
The court sided with Washington state and Colorado, both of which attempted to penalize “faithless electors” who voted against the people in their state. Justices decided it is constitutional for Washington state to fine the dissenting elector and for Colorado to remove and replace the elector.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson believes SCOTUS’ decision “reaffirmed the fundamental principle that the vote of the people should matter in choosing the president.”
For background, electors are members of the Electoral College who decide the winner of the presidential race. For a candidate to win the presidency, they must win 270 out of 538 electors. All 50 states have a different number of electors, which makes some more important to win than others (take the ever-important swing states, for example).
Electors are obligated to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote.
However, in 2016, Democrats urged the Hamilton Electors movement, which encouraged electors to vote against the popular vote to prevent a Trump presidency. The movement is named after Alexander Hamilton who did not trust the popular vote as he didn’t believe the masses could intelligently choose a president. The electors who go against their state’s popular vote are coined ‘faithless electors’ for essentially voiding the vote of average Americans. While two never-Trump Republicans participated in the Hamilton Electors movement, five Democrats who wanted more progressive candidates than Clinton did so as well. It really says a lot about the Left to support “faithless electors” in 2016, right?
While I don’t exactly trust the masses to make great decisions either, I do trust our Electoral College safeguard. I believe that if a state chooses a certain candidate, then their votes should count. That’s the risk of putting the presidency in the people’s hands, and in my opinion, the risk is worth the alternative, which is a government that doesn’t care what we the people think. Remember, we do have such thing as term limits, in addition to a wide variety of executive checks and balances, that can deter the effects of a bad president’s decisions. There are other ways to legally combat the implications of a presidency.
We cannot normalize the idea behind the “faithless electors,” which is to simply block the will of the people because they don’t like a given ideology. It undermines the fabric of the rights and freedoms America offers. What faithless electors did in 2016 is a total abuse of power that is unconstitutional. Those dissenting electors deserve to be punished for that action. If you really think about it, it could even be construed as borderline treasonous for betraying the country in that way. America deserves better than a cheap, cowardly overthrow of the people’s votes.