There is a post on Facebook initiated by change.org requesting 4,500,000 signatures on a petition (3,456,689 have signed as of this post), asking that the Elector College members NOT vote per their state's popular vote, but honor the country's popular vote instead.

The end of the post reads:

24 states bind electors. If electors vote against their party, they usually pay a fine. And people get mad. But they can vote however they want and there is no legal means to stop them in most states.

Is the above quote correct in it assertion?

  • 5
    Yeah it is. But you should put this on Politics SE.
    – Ne Mo
    Nov 12 '16 at 15:53

Mostly it is true, yes. The only issue is that electoral votes are tallied by state, not by person. That means it would be difficult to enforce this, unless the state passes a law to make sure they know, or unless the entire state delegation was "faithless", or the guilty party admitted to it.

This actually happened in 2004.

An anonymous Minnesota elector, pledged for Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards, cast his or her presidential vote for John Ewards [sic], rather than Kerry, presumably by accident. (All of Minnesota's electors cast their vice presidential ballots for John Edwards.) Minnesota's electors cast secret ballots, so unless one of the electors claims responsibility, it is unlikely the identity of the faithless elector will ever be known. As a result of this incident, Minnesota Statutes were amended to provide for public balloting of the electors' votes and invalidation of a vote cast for someone other than the candidate to whom the elector is pledged.

Also, the penalty for being an unfaithful elector is entirely up to the state in question. They could even make it a criminal offense if they wanted to, although I'm not aware of a state that has done that.

The original idea behind the Electoral College was to avoid direct Democracy. States would select electors, who were supposed to be wise upstanding men who could be trusted to make the choice themselves. They were not supposed to be people who promised to make a particular choice beforehand, lest they not be selected. Also, states were not required to hold elections at all. Some just had their legislatures pick electors. We've spent the last 250 years essentially trying to hack direct Democracy back into this system.


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