The Electoral College is even worse than you think — Here’s why!

The Electoral College is even worse than you think—Here’s why!

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If you thought that getting 3 million more votes nationally and still losing was terrible, the Electoral College is even worse than you could imagine.

The same rule could potentially swing individual states for people WHO AREN’T EVEN RUNNING!


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How could that be possible? Surely whoever gets the most votes in, say, Arkansas or New Hampshire wins that state and collects the designated electoral votes? Right. Right?!?

Wrong. “Faithless electors” can do whatever they please.

President Powell! (Oh, wait… he wasn’t even running…)

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In 2016, three Democratic electors in Washington state each voted for Colin Powell! Yes, even though Hillary easily won the state, that trio of bandits decided to ignore the will of the people. And what happened in Colorado is maybe even more egregious.

In a state that Hillary Clinton also handily carried one rogue hater of democracy decided to vote for John Kasich, who a.) wasn’t running and b.) is a Republican.

What about the oath?

The Electoral College is even worse than you think -- Here's why! 1

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All electors take an oath to vote for whoever received the most votes in the state. Oath be damned—eight faithless electors still cast their votes for someone who didn’t win their state.

There are five hundred and thirty-eight electors in total, so that may seem like an insignificant number, but remember that George W. Bush became president with only one electoral vote over the threshold.

What do we do?

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Never fear! The Supreme Court is on it! The justices will hear the Colorado and Washington state cases later this month. In the Washington state case, the three faithless electors/democracy ignorers had been fined a whopping $1,000 for their political belligerence.

In the Colorado case, the question is whether or not the state had the right to remove the elector who not only went against the grain in voting for Kasich but ignored the grain completely.

Professor Lessig to the rescue! (But for whom?)

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Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig represents the state electors in both cases. If that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because in 2016 Lessig argued that Republican electors had a duty to deny Donald Trump the presidency and believed that electors should “vote their conscience.”

 The big questions

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  • What is the point of electors if they behave like independent actors?
  • If you believe in the wisdom of voters, then why have electors?
  • If you believe in electors, then why have voters?
  • Why are voters treated like children who need a “middleman”?
  • If the fine for betraying the will of the people is a mere $1000, then what’s to stop trailing politicians from bribing them? After all, even someone with 0% of the vote would only need $270,000 to cover the fines of the 270 electors required for victory. (And yes, that last statement wasn’t a question.)
  • Why do we need this filter on democracy?
  • If the Supreme Court rules in Lessig’s favor and electors are free to “vote their conscience” then why bother with the election?

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