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Supreme Court allows states to force electors to support popular vote candidate

The Supreme Court. (Joe Sohm/Dreamstime/TNS)
July 06, 2020

The Supreme Court voted on Monday to allow states to prohibit their presidential electors from supporting a presidential candidate other than the one chosen by popular vote in the state.

The case brought by Colorado and Washington officials asked the Supreme Court to settle the matter of “faithless electors” to avoid the issue of electors supporting a candidate other than the one chosen by the state’s voters.

“The Court correctly determines that States have the power to require Presidential electors to vote for the candidate chosen by the people of the State,” the court’s decision reads.

The court noted that the constitution does not explicitly declare or restrict states’ power over electoral voting. However, it deferred to the Tenth Amendment, which defers power to the states.

“That Amendment states that ‘[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” the court wrote.

Currently, 32 states and the District of Columbia mandate their electors vote for the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In many presidential elections, the electoral votes have not been close enough for a handful of “faithless electors” to make a considerable difference. However, the 2000 election saw just a difference in five electoral votes between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

In the 2016 presidential election, seven electors defied the popular votes in their states, with Republican electors voting for John Kasich and Ron Paul instead of Donald Trump, and Democrat electors voting for Colin Powell and Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton.