The Supreme Court’s decision today that electors must vote in accordance with the candidate who won the state sends a clear message ahead of the 2020 election. The court voted unanimously that electors “have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens’. Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “that direction accords with the Constitution, as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule.”
While there has been a growing movement against the Electoral College, the decision made by all the justices is a setback for those who think the voting process in America is obsolete. In 2016, ten voters voted against the state. While it did not impact the election results, an increase in faithless electors could have potentially turned the system inside out. If the race came down to a few Electoral College votes, faithless electors could change the results of the election.
The case leaves in place voting laws in 32 states and DC that requires electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote. In 2016, Hillary Clinton electors in Washington and Colorado refused to vote for her, despite her winning the popular vote in the state. Their goal was to encourage Donald Trump electors in other states to break against the popular vote, and therefore, cost him the Electoral College victory. Bret Chiafalo was fined $1,000 because he voted for Colin Powell instead of Hillary Clinton. The federal appeals court in Denver sided with the petitioners, ruling that electors can vote their own choice rather than who won the popular vote in the state. The Supreme Court, however, made it clear the democratic process would follow the instructions from the Constitution, and made sure to make the decision to avoid election turmoil in November.
Why this matters: The Founding Fathers, when developing the governing structures, understood the importance of a fair and free election. After Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College vote, there has been a growing movement to abolish this part of the system. It was created, however, to ensure states with a larger population couldn’t throw off the balance and have a stronger impact than states with smaller populations. Furthermore, this particular case with the electors, is an attempt to impose one’s own political agenda over the will of the people in that state, collectively. It is a very important decision for upholding the country’s original democratic principles, and will help prevent future election drama.
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