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General News    H3'ed 1/18/20

The Supreme Court Agrees To Hear 2016 "Faithless Electors" Case

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When former Vice President Al Gore "lost" the 2000 presidential election to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush after the Supreme Court ordered Florida to stop its contentious re-count, many argued the Electoral College had finally seen its demise.

But it didn't.

All the grumbling, rhetoric, and political back-peddling faded until 2016, when, once again, a Republican--Donald Trump--"defeated" Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by crossing the 270 electoral-vote threshold.

It didn't matter Clinton attained over three million more popular votes.

The framers of the Constitution did not totally trust "We The People."

When Americans go to the polls to vote for president, they are not actually voting for a candidate; they are voting instead for a designated group out of 538 electors pledged to specific candidates.

But something interesting happened in 2016.

Ten pledged electors refused to support their states' popular vote winner.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider in the spring whether states may punish or replace "faithless" electors, and whether the Constitution provides any insight into how they cast their ballots.

According to a filed petition by Peter Bret Chiafalo, Levi Jennet Guerra, and Esther Virginia John, three Washington Democratic Party electors facing fines for not supporting Hillary Clinton:

"It is possible that a presidential election could turn on just a few disputed electoral votes cast in purported violation of state law. It is not entirely clear how that would play outbut there is a very real risk of substantial unrest, or worse, if that does happen."

A legal brief filed on the matter explains 32 states and Washington, DC require electors to vote for the statewide winner.

Chiafalo, Guerra, and John pledged in 2016 to vote for Clinton.

Yet when the Electoral College convened a month after the election, as the Constitution requires, they all voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell for president. For vice president, they voted for each Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).

When Colorado Democratic elector Michael Baca voted for former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich over Clinton, the state counted another elector's vote, for Clinton, over his.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver agrees electors can vote for any legitimate candidate.

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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