Should Presidential Electors Be Able to Vote for Anyone?

Person casting their vote into a ballot box

According to an op-ed published in Talking Points Memo by CLC’s Paul Smith, Americans should be wary of “faithless electors” — presidential electors who can cast their vote for anyone, regardless of how the state voted and regardless of whether the elector pledged to support the state winner.  

Two lower courts have recently weighed in on this issue, and it may well make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court this term, in time for the 2020 Election.

But should the Supreme Court ever rule on this, Smith argues “it is intolerable to risk the disaster that would befall the country if a faithless elector or two changed the outcome of a presidential election.”

He writes: “[I]magine what might occur if, in November 2020, President Trump and his Democratic opponent find themselves only a couple electoral votes apart on election night. It’s easy to imagine lobbying efforts or threats aimed at electors, as well as national media campaigns or street demonstrations in front of an elector’s house. All it would take is a handful of electors changing their votes – to the losing candidate or maybe just to a third party – to change the outcome entirely or throw the election into the House of Representatives. …A President elected that way would never be accepted by many Americans.”

Read the full op-ed.


This post was written by Sheely Edwards, a 2019 CLC Hinckley intern, and student at the University of Utah.