Recent Supreme Court Ruling makes waves during election year


Tyler Gardner, President of College Democrats (right) with Former United State Representative Beto O’Rourke. 

Jessica Urig Reporter

Earlier in July, the Supreme Court made a unanimous 9-decision that however the state votes in an election, the Electoral College members have to vote in favor of the popular vote. 

In the 2016 election, 10 of 538 presidential electors voted against the pledged candidate. Until this ruling, only 32 states and the District of Columbia had laws that would hold the electors accountable for changing their vote. In Ohio, there were already laws in place that require the elector to cast their vote for the party or candidate that wins the statewide popular vote.

 But until 2016, no state had ever actually removed an elector for going against the states’ popular vote. During the 2016 presidential election there were 7 electoral voters that “went rouge” and voted for a different candidate. Two cases were sent to the supreme court over this. 

Washington moved to fine Peter Bret Chiafalo and two others $1,000 after they voted for former secretary of state Colin Powell when the electoral college convened after the 2016 election. They had pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton, who won the state’s popular vote.

For example, in Washington state during the 2016 election, three presidential electors voted for Colin Powell, a third party candidate in the 2016 election, rather than Hillary Clinton. Colorado replaced Micheal Baca after he said he intended to vote for Ohio’s previous governor John Kasich instead of Clinton, who won his state. 

“Depending on who you ask, it had a big effect on the results in 2016,” says Anika Casanova, Vice President of College Democrats. 

Technically, the ruling does not completely dismiss the possibility that there could be faithless electors in the future, the court ruled that states can require their electors to vote for the popular winner, not that they must. Since the ruling there has been rumors of another bill that would make a law to punish faithless electors. But nothing has been released yet.  

“It’s a good case to have but I don’t think it’s super impactful,” says Tyler Gardner, President of College Democrats. “There hasn’t been an election where a faithless elector caused the results of the election to change.” 

“There is no real need for it in modern American,” says Devin Douglass of College Democrats at Kent State University. “Getting rid of it would really solidify ‘one person, one vote’ and represent truly what a democracy is.” 

In the United States Constitution article II, section 1, clauses 1 and 2, only implies that the electors should vote in favor of the popular vote. But it does give states the power to set standards and expectations for their electors to make sure their votes are fully represented.

Contact Jessica Urig at [email protected]