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Has there ever been a case where electoral colleges vote for someone the people didn't vote for during an election for president of the United States?
Most states choose Presidential electors based on the candidate who got the most votes in the November election, but not all do. In particular, Nebraska (which has 3 congressional districts and therefore 5 electoral votes) allocates 2 electors to the state-wide winner, and each of the other 3 to the winner in each congressional district. In the 2008 election, Nebraska cast 4 votes for McCain and 1 for Obama, who won a majority of the vote in one district.
Maine has a similar rule, but I don't believe it's split its votes since it established that rule.
But electors are not Constitutionally required to vote as they committed (though there may be penalties under state law). The Constitution leaves it to each state legislature to decide how electors are chosen. All states currently do so by popular vote, but that hasn't always been the case.
There have been a few cases of "faithless electors". Most recently, a 2000 Washington, D.C. elector refused to cast a vote to protest D.C.'s lack of representation in Congress, and a 2004 Minnesota elector wrote the wrong name on the ballot, apparently accidentally.
In 158 instances, electors have cast their votes for President or Vice President in a manner different from that prescribed by the legislature of the state they represented. faithless elector
Hat tip to @Keith Thompson, but I wanted to provide a more specific answer.
States Electors aren't really bound to the popular vote, there have been cases where the popular vote did not decide the winner-take-all voting system we have; I note this because Main and Nebraska do have a different system as Keith notes. That system divides up the votes, and while this typically matches the Popular vote it has not always been so.
I'm not clear if you are asking about specific states, or in general for the elections where the national popular vote did not match the Electoral College - which gave the election to someone else. There are not really that many cases of this:
- 1800 election of Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson ended up as a tie with 73 electoral votes each, which put the decision to the House of Representatives and the result of this was the 12th Amendment
- 1824 had a four way contest with Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford, and Henry Clay all gaining votes but not a majority, which put the decision of the election to the House of Representatives (according to the 12th Amendment). In this case John Quincy Adams received the majority of the House votes, even with Jackson getting the most electoral votes, in this case the election went where neither the popular count or electoral count showed a victor
- 1888 election of Benjamin Harrison was a case where Harrison had some small majorities in some of the bigger states, which gave him a larger Electoral College count which gave him the election
- 2000 election of George W Bush and Al Gore often notes that Al Gore won the majority of the popular vote, but the decision by the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush. There is plenty of evidence on who won the votes on either side, though I tend to side with the evidence that it was Gore, this was the year of the Butterfly Ballot and hanging chad's
Remember though, that early elections were often handled by Congress who promoted candidates, voting was at first limited to only landed males and extended later so comparing the votes between early elections and present day needs to take this all into account.
US Election Atlas
Obligatory Wikipedia entry
University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Site
The general idea behind the Electoral College is that the states pick
Electors, they get 1 each for each congressmen and senator they have (iow: at least 3 for every state, more for bigger ones), and the Electoral College decides, based on majoriy vote, who is President.
- It is up to the states how they pick their Electors. It would be perfectly OK for the Governor or the state legislature's ruling party to just assign them, if the people of that state would put up with such a system. It's been done in the past. Right now all states allow their citizens to directly vote for electors, and in all but two states the majority candidate gets all the electors. However, that's for the states to decide. Originally, almost no states directly elected their EC representatives, so it would be fair to say that in most early elections, the EC voted for candidates that had not been voted on by "the people".
- Electors are free to vote how they please. Half of the states try to legally require their electors to vote for who they promised to vote for, but Federal law has no such requirement.
- They might not get to decide. If there's no majority winner, the election goes to the newly-elected House of Representatives (but on a one-vote-per-state basis). This has not happened in nearly 200 years, and really could only happen in today's universe in the case of a 270-270 tie. (There's an even more breathtakingly unlikely scenario where the Senate could end up indirectly picking the President, but let's not get into that)
There has never been a case where the Electoral College AS A WHOLE, went against the electoral votes generated by popular vote.
That said, there have been cases where individual ELECTORS went against their state's vote. One example I can think of is in 1988, when the popular vote of the state of West Virginia went for Dukakis. One lady elector from that state cast her vote for Lloyd Bentsen (Dukakis' running mate), for President and Dukakis for Vice-President. So Dukakis actually got only 110 electoral votes instead of the 111 he was entitled to.
In 1972, when Nixon won every state except Massachusetts (so that even Senator George McGovern's home state of South Dakota didn't vote for him) one of the Nixon electors in Virginia, Roger MacBride, voted for John Hospers of California and Theodora Nathan of Oregon, the candidates of the newly founded Libertarian Party.
I think Nathan may have been the first woman to win an electoral vote, but I'm not sure. When Vice-President Spiro Agnew officially announced the results of the vote of the electoral college, he called her "Theodore" Nathan.
Perhaps it should be noted that the term "electoral college" is not official. It appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was imported from Germany, where, under the First Reich, the king of Germany was nominally chosen by an electoral college in which membership was hereditary. The Germans used the Latin phrase "collegium electorum".
We explain the different ways America can change the Electoral College system, and discuss the pros and cons of abolishing or reforming the electoral system.     
The two ways to change the electoral system regarding the election of the President and Vice President are by 1. a Constitutional Amendment and 2. Changing state-based rules. In both cases the problem is “those who win elections are not likely to change them,” and given recent history, that means getting the less populous, rural, and largely Republican states to change the rules is unlikely. We explain the Electoral College and the different options for changing it, and the related complications, below in more detail.
FACT: Things can change. Winner-takes-all rules have been changed since the Constitution was written. Senators were not elected by direct vote until the 17th Amendment established the direct election of U.S. Senators. The 12th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th Amendments all changed the way voting works in the United States. See Presidential Election Laws.
In the United States government, has there been cases that electoral colleges don't vote for the candidate the majority of their state voted for? - History
The Issue: Why did the framers choose the method that they did for electing presidents?
Should the Electoral College be abolished or modified?
The mode of the selection of the president was one of the most difficult and contentious issues in the 1787 Convention. Some delegates urged that the president be selected by the legislature. Other delegates, favoring direct election, argued that selection by the legislature would mean--at least if presidents could serve more than one term--that the president would be continually trying to please the legislators and would not be truly independent. Delegates opposed to direct election expressed the concern that presidents would always come from more populous states and wondered whether the public would have the knowledge of various candidates necessary to make a wise selection. The final decision of the delegates, to have electors chosen by the various state legislatures elect the president, was the result of a compromise worked out by a committee comprised of one delegate from each of the states and presented to the Convention on September 4, 1787.
Several elections have tested the Electoral College system. The first contested election was that of 1800 when both Thomas Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, received 73 electoral votes, throwing the election into the House of Representatives. (After 36 ballots, the House chose Jefferson.) The consequence of the 1800 election was the 12th Amendment, providing that electors vote separately for president and vice-president. The 1824 election saw a four-way split of electoral votes, with the House eventually choosing John Quincy Adams as president even though Andrew Jackson had received more electoral votes. The 1876 election was a true mess, with disputes over which slates of electors had won in four different states. The final determination as to which slates of electors had in fact been elected was made on an 8-7 vote by a congressional commission. The commission's decision gave Rutherford Hayes 185 electoral votes and the presidency. The winner of the popular vote, Samuel Tilden, finished with 184 electoral votes. (One cost of the 1876 election was the end of Reconstruction: to win Democrats' acceptance of the commission's decision, Republicans agreed to withdraw troops from the South, effectively trading the presidency for the disenfranchisement of blacks.) In 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland, but won narrowly in the Electoral College. Then, in 2000, trouble brewed again when electoral victory hinged upon a terribly close and challenged fight for Florida's 25 electoral votes.
The fight for Florida's votes went twice to the U. S. Supreme Court. In the first case, Bush v Palm Beach, the Court vacated and remanded a Florida Supreme Court decision extending the deadline for certification. The Court wanted to know whether the Florida Court had reached its decision by interpreting legislative intent (permissible, the Court said) or instead had relied on its interpretation of the Florida Constitution (which would be a violation of Article II, which delegates to State Legislatures the power to determine how electors are selected.) In the second case, Bush v Gore, the Supreme Court effectively determined the outcome of the presidential race by reversing a Florida Supreme Court decision ordering a statewide recount of undervotes. The Court majority found that the recount scheme violated the Equal Protection Clause. Five justices went on to interpret Florida law as preferring a final certification by December 12 (the deadline for falling within the so-called "safe harbor" protection) to a more accurate recount by December 18 (the date that electors actually vote). That interpretation of Florida law by the five most conservative members of the Court handed the presidency to Gov. Bush, since the opinion was released at 10 pm on December 11 and no recount by the 12th was possible.
In the 2020 case of Chiafalo v Washington, the Court considered the constitutionality of a state law that punished an elector for not voting for the presidential candidate who won the state's popular vote. (Clinton carried Washington, but the elector voted for Colin Powell in the hopes of starting a movement by other electors that could result in a candidate other than Donald Trump being elected president.) The Court ruled unanimously that nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from taking away the voting discretion of electors and punishing so-called "faithless electors."
Pages carry into the Senate electoral votes for 1948 election.
1. Why did many of the framers fear the direct election of the president?
2. Given the way that the Electoral College has evolved, does the College still serve the purpose that was envisioned for it by the founding fathers?
3. What states are winners and what states are losers under the Electoral College system?
4. Is the Electoral College likely to produce more--or fewer--recount disputes such as that witnessed in the 2000 election?
5. If a dispute concerning the validity of a particular slate of electors were to reach the U. S. Supreme Court, how would the Court likely handle the issue? Why?
6. Do you think that the Electoral College discourages third parties? If so, is this good?
7. Does one or the other of our two major parties benefit more from the Electoral College? If so, which party and why?
8. Is there any reason to think that the Electoral College produces better (or worse) presidents than would be produced by direct election?
9. Is there even a snowball's chance in hell that the Electoral College system will be replaced by direct election of the president? Why is a constitutional amendment changing our system of electing presidents so unlikely?
10. Do you favor replacing the Electoral College with direct popular election of the president? Why or why not?
5 Arguments for the Electoral College
1. The Electoral College, in recognizing a role for states in the selection of the president, reminds us of their importance in our federal system.
2. The Electoral College encourages more person-to-person campaigning by candidates, as they spend time in both the big cities and smaller cities in battleground states.
3. In close, contested elections, recounts will usually be confined to a state or two, rather than an across-the-country recount that might be required if we had direct election of the president.
4. The Electoral College, with its typical winner-take-all allocation of votes, often turns a small percentage margin of victory into one that appears much larger, thus making the victory seem more conclusive and adding to the winner's perceived legitimacy.
5. It's fun on election nights to watch states light up in different colors on television network maps of the U. S.
5 Arguments for Direct Popular Vote
1. When the winner of the Electoral College is not the candidate who received the most votes of the people, the new president will face questions about his legitimacy.
2. Most Americans believe that the person who receives the most votes should become president. Direct election is seen as more consistent with democratic principles than is the Electoral College system.
3. The Electoral College gives disproportionate weight to the votes of citizens of small states. For example, a vote by a resident of Wyoming counts about four times more--electorally--than a vote by a California resident.
4. If presidents were elected by direct popular vote, they would wage a campaign and advertise all across the nation, rather than (as they do in the Electoral College system) concentrating almost all of their time and effort in a handful of battleground states. The Electoral College system encourages candidates to pander to the interests of voters in a few closely contested states.
5. The Electoral College system, especially in a close election, is subject to the mischief that might be caused by disloyal--or even bribed--electors.
An End-Run Around the Electoral College?
A proposal to make an end-run around the Electoral College is gathering support, but its ultimate success seems unlikely. The so-called "National Popular Vote Bill" would, if adopted by a state, bind that state to casting its electoral votes for the presidential candidate receiving the greatest popular vote, regardless of which candidate carried its own state vote, provided that other states with a combined total of over 269 electoral votes (enough to elect a president) have promised to do likewise with their own electoral votes. In 2007, Maryland became the first state to enact the National Popular Vote bill. Hawaii, Illinois, and Virginia also have enacted the legislation.
The proposal faces at least two major problems. First, it is unlikely to gain support in the battleground states that benefit from the current system by attracting candidates (and, they hope, promises to do well by their state) during the campaign. Second, it is likely to face opposition from whatever political party feels it is more likely to win in the Electoral College than it is with the winner being determined by popular vote. Although it is not clear whether any party is the more likely beneficiary of the Electoral College, Republicans have been skeptical of the National Popular Vote Bill because many "red" states are rural and have smaller populations (giving them disproportionate power in the Electoral College). (Consider Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota, for example). Republicans also fear that Democratic candidates might rack up big popular vote margins in populous states such as California and New York, bigger margins than are likely to come from a more populous red state such as Texas.)
Cartoon from The New Republic
Questions Concerning the Supreme Court Decisions of 2000
1. The Supreme Court, of course, never had to accept either of these cases. Should it have?
2. Did the Framers intend in Article II to restrict the normal deference that is extended to state court interpretations of state election law by the federal courts? Or did the Framers mean to say only that state legislatures may--as was the early practice--actually select the electors?
3. If state court interpretations of election law are to be extended less deference in the single context of selecting electors, what standard should apply? Should state court interpretations of election law be overturned whenever they are unreasonable (as Bush lawyers argued), or only when they are a sham--an attempt to subvert legislative will and not a use of the normal tools of statutory construction (as Gore lawyers argued)?
4. Did Bush have standing to assert the equal protection claims of Florida voters?
5. How serious in the injury suffered by some Florida voters that was the basis for the Court's conclusion that the recount scheme violated the Equal Protection Clause? Does it compare to the injury suffered in the "one person, one vote" cases involving apportionment?
6. Malapportionment distorts the political processes in a way making a legislative remedy of the problem unlikely, thus providing an argument for strict judicial scrutiny. Can the same be said about the problem identified in Bush--that it is the sort of invidious discrimination that will never be corrected without judicial intervention?
7. How do you explain the fact that the five most conservative members of the Court--the five most likely to take states' rights stances in most cases-- were the five most willing to find a violation of federal law in Bush v Gore?
8. Do you agree with the assertion that Bush v Gore was "pure politics" and not a reflection of judicial principles? Why or why not?
9. Judge Richard Posner, in his Breaking the Deadlock: The 2000 Election, the Constitution, and the Courts, offers an interesting argument in support of the Court's decision in Bush v Gore. Posner supports the decision because it avoided the chaos of a prolonged unresolved deadlock. Do you agree that that reason is enough to justify the decision?
Relevant Provisions of the Constitution
Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors,equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes which Day shall be the same throughout the
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted--The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. . . . The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President to the United States.
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
[Federal law establishes a detailed scheme for the counting of electoral votes and dealing with controversies concerning competing sets of electors.]
[A complete record of the debate at the 1787 Constitutional Convention relating to the method of selecting the president, as recorded in the notes of James Madison.]
The House Decides: 1801
The provisions for electing the President and Vice President have been among the most amended in the Constitution. Initially, electors voted for two individuals without differentiating between the ballot for President and Vice President. The winner of the largest bloc of votes, so long as it was a majority of all the votes cast, would win the presidency. The individual with the second largest number of votes would become Vice President. In 1796, this meant that John Adams became President and Thomas Jefferson became Vice President despite opposing each other for the presidency.
The 1800 presidential election further tested the presidential selection system when Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the Republican candidates for President and Vice President, tied at 73 electoral ballots each. The House, under the Constitution, then chose between Jefferson and Burr for President. The Constitution mandates that House Members vote as a state delegation and that the winner must obtain a simple majority of the states. The House deadlocked at eight states for Jefferson, six for Burr, and two tied. After six days of debate and 36 ballots, Jefferson won 10 state delegations in the House when the Burr supporters in the two tied states (Vermont and Maryland) filed blank ballots rather than support Jefferson.
1800: Thomas Jefferson v. John Adams
In the 1800 presidential election, the Democratic-Republicans ran Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr on their ballot. Jefferson and Burr won a clear majority of the national vote. All 73 Democratic-Republican members of the Electoral College voted faithfully, casting two votes each, one for Jefferson and one for Burr.
Before the 12th Amendment, electors cast two votes for their party without specifying one as being for the president and the other for the vice president. Because of this, Jefferson and Burr received exactly the same number of electoral votes and the election was a tie.
Since there was no majority within the Electoral College, the decision was deferred to the House of Representatives, then controlled by the Federalist Party. Though Jefferson was clearly the Democratic-Republican's candidate for president, the Federalist Party considered Burr to be less of an evil than Jefferson. They tried to rally support for Burr in place of Jefferson. Burr also refused to endorse Jefferson.
The House had difficulty coming to a majority and cast 36 separate votes within one week. Though the original election was in November, the final House vote, electing Jefferson as president, did not occur until February 7, 1800. Aaron Burr was appointed as vice president.
This election prompted the passing of the 12th Amendment which introduced double balloting. The Electoral College now casts two separate votes, one for president and one for vice president.
Does Your Vote Really Matter? How the Electoral College System Works.
The founding fathers established the Electoral College as a compromise between election of the President by Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. The U.S. Constitution states in Amendment XII, ratified by the states in 1804:
“The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed ….”
The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors who cast votes to decide the President and Vice-President of the United States. The number 538 is the sum of the nation’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 electors given to the District of Columbia.
In all but two states, the candidate who wins a majority of popular votes also wins all of that state’s electoral votes (“winner take all” rule). The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270 out of 538) then wins the Presidency.
2016 ELECTORAL MAP
Image Source: wikipedia.org
How Are Each State’s Electors Selected?
There is a two-part process to selecting each state’s Electors. First, the political parties in each state choose slates of potential Electors sometime before the general election. Electors are often chosen to recognize their service and dedication to that party. So by the end of the first stage, each Presidential candidate has his or her own unique slate of potential Electors.
Second, on Election Day, the voters in each state select their state’s Electors by casting their ballots for President. Most voters don’t know it, but when they cast votes for the Presidential candidate of their choice they are actually voting to select their state’s Electors.
In all states except in Nebraska and Maine, the winning Presidential candidate’s slate of potential Electors are then appointed as the state’s Electors.
For example, if Donald Trump won the popular vote in Alaska, his slate of potential Electors are appointed as Alaska’s Electors. Those Electors would then cast their votes for Trump as President.
In Nebraska and Maine, the state winner receives two Electors and the winner of each congressional district (who may be the same as the overall winner or a different candidate) receives one Elector. This system permits the Electors from Nebraska and Maine to be awarded to more than one candidate.
Are Electors Legally Required to Vote for their Party’s Candidate?
It depends. There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states.
However, 27 states require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. About 29 states also provide that so-called “faithless Electors” may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. Throughout history, more than 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged.
And yet, there have been 157 faithless electors in American history. 71 of these votes were changed because the original candidate died before the day on which the Electoral College cast its votes.
When Does the Electoral College Actually Vote?
Although the nation goes to the voting booths on November 8, each state’s electors meet on the Monday following the second Wednesday of December to cast their votes, which is December 19, 2016, this year. Those votes are then sent to the President of the Senate who reads them before both houses of Congress on January 6th. The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.
Can A Candidate Win the Popular Vote But Not the Required 270 Electoral College Votes to Become President?
Yes! This happened to George W. Bush in 2000, who lost the popular vote to Al Gore by .51% but won the electoral college 271 to 266.
As explained above, the President is not chosen by a nation-wide popular vote but is determined by the electoral college. In all elections since the nation’s founding, except for three, the popular vote aligned with the electoral votes.
The three elections where the popular vote differed from the electoral votes were: the Hayes/Tilden election of 1876, the Harrison/Cleveland election of 1888, and Bush/Gore in 2000.
What If Neither Candidate Wins the Required Majority of 270 Electoral Votes?
The Constitution provides an answer for this scenario, as well. If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. If the House of Representatives fails to elect a President by Inauguration Day, the Vice-President Elect serves as acting President until the deadlock is resolved in the House.
Believe it or not, this has actually happened twice in American history!
In 1801 Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, both Democrat-Republicans, received the same number of electoral votes, despite the fact that Burr was running as a vice presidential candidate, not for the presidency. Following 36 successive votes in the House, Jefferson was finally elected president.
In 1824 John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson actually received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and 15 more electoral votes than Adams. However, Jackson did not receive the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.
Fun! The world’s most terrifying reality TV show could, under this scenario, continue indefinitely, while either Tim Kaine or Mike Pence serves as acting President.
What do you think? Should the Electoral College system be abolished so that the popular vote determines who becomes President? Or is the popular vote too dangerous?
Splits between the Electoral College and national popular vote, 1824-2016
The following chart shows the five presidential elections where there was a split between the Electoral College and the national popular vote or no candidate received a majority of the Electoral College vote. ΐ]
|2016 presidential election|
|Candidate||Party||Electoral votes||Popular vote|
|Donald Trump||Republican||304 a||62,980,160|
|Hillary Clinton||Democratic||227||65,845,063 a|
|2000 presidential election|
|Candidate||Party||Electoral votes||Popular vote|
|George W. Bush||Republican||271 a||50,456,062|
|Al Gore||Democratic||266||50,996,582 a|
|1888 presidential election|
|Candidate||Party||Electoral votes||Popular vote|
|Benjamin Harrison||Republican||233 a||5,439, 853|
|Grover Cleveland||Democratic||168||5,540,309 a|
|1876 presidential election|
|Candidate||Party||Electoral votes||Popular vote|
|Rutherford B. Hayes||Republican||185 a||4,036,298|
|Samuel J. Tilden||Democratic||184||4,300,590 a|
|1824 presidential election|
|Candidate||Party||Electoral votes||Popular vote|
|John Quincy Adams Α]||Democratic-Republican||84||108,740|
|Andrew Jackson||Democratic-Republican||99||153,544 a|
|William H. Crawford||Democratic-Republican||41||40,856|
Do electors need to follow results of their respective states?
The U.S. Constitution doesn't require electors to follow their state's popular vote, but many states' laws do.
In July, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states can require presidential electors to back their states' popular vote winner in the electoral college. The ruling leaves in place laws in 32 states and D.C. that bind electors to vote for the popular-vote winner.
Electors almost always do so anyway. So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a U.S. presidential election, but that could change in a race decided by just a few electoral votes.
Both Opal and Levine mentioned a way that the electoral college could be circumvented without abolishing it: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The proposal requires enough states to join in order to secure the 270 electors needed to win the presidency. Once that happens, those states' electors would vote for the candidate who wins the national popular vote instead of voting for the candidate who wins their state.
"Nothing in the Constitution says how the electors are supposed to vote," Opal said. "If you're an opponent of the electoral college as I am, it's a rather elegant solution to the problem."
Levine said the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would be easier to accomplish than passing a constitutional amendment. "This proposal will preserve the electoral college, but it will make the electoral college simply a way of awarding the plurality vote winner," he said.
"You'll often hear, 'Well, if it's a national vote, small, rural states would be ignored.' But they are ignored in the current system. It's these closely balanced purple states that get the attention," Levine said.
7. Is This Post-Election Dispute Unprecedented?
Election-related litigation, making the case to state legislatures, and potential activity in Congress most certainly have precedent in presidential elections.
The elections of 2000, 1876, and 1824 come to mind, but it’s not necessary to go back that far.
“Four years ago, the shoe was on the other foot when the left went into overtime to delegitimize the election and open calls to throw the Electoral College to Hillary Clinton after Election Day,” said Snead, of the Honest Elections Project. “We risk the country on both parties’ only viewing an election as legitimate if their candidate wins.”
After Trump won the 2016 election, several Democrats pushed movements to encourage Republican electors to vote for either Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or someone other than Trump to deny him the presidency.
After that election, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said:
I do think the Electoral College should choose someone other than Donald Trump to be president. That will lead to a fascinating legal issue … but I would rather have a legal problem — a constitutional legal problem—then to find out the White House was now the Kremlin’s chief ally.
Also in 2016, Democratic elector Christine Pelosi of California, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, led a letter signed by 53 other electors asking then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for a briefing on Russian interference for the full Electoral College before the electors convened in their respective states.
The Democratic electors’ letter said that the Constitution “envisions the Electoral College as a deliberative body that plays a critical role in our system of government—ensuring that the American people elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve.”
A group calling itself the Hamilton Electors, founded by Democratic electors Bret Chiafalo of Washington state and Michael Baca of Colorado, pushed for a revolt in the Electoral College. It sought at first to unite 135 Republicans and 135 Democrats behind a compromise Republican candidate for president such as 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney or Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Chiafalo and Baca eventually backed away and tried to convince 37 Republican electors to stray from Trump, bringing his total below the needed 270 electoral votes and sending the election to the House. Neither gambit worked.
The two founders of Hamilton Electors challenged state laws against faithless electors and lost in the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig and Boston lawyer R.J. Lyman founded the Electors Trust after the 2016 election to provide legal advice to electors who might stray from their state’s winner.
Another group, United For America, sponsored commercials featuring celebrities who pleaded with Republican electors to switch their votes.
Actor Martin Sheen, who played a president on the NBC series “The West Wing,” joined other Hollywood actors such as Debra Messing, Richard Schiff, and Bob Odenkirk for a political ad aimed at Republican electors.
In the ad, each actor stated, “I’m not asking you to vote for Hillary Clinton.” But they urged Republicans in the Electoral College to become an “American hero” by keeping Trump out of the White House.
On Dec. 19, 2016, a total of seven electors bolted from either Trump or Clinton, but the defections did not change the outcome.
As for other overtime elections, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore took their 2000 fight for Florida’s electoral votes to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Bush.
In 1876, during Reconstruction, the presidential election was disputed in the Southern states of South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, as was one of Oregon’s electoral votes.
At first it appeared that Democrat Samuel Tilden carried the three Southern states, but Republicans alleged election fraud.
To settle the matter, Congress created an Electoral Commission with five House members, five senators, and five Supreme Court justices. The panel eventually ruled 8-7 to give the electoral votes in each of the states to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who became president.
This report was updated Friday night to reflect the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Texas’ lawsuit against four other states.
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In the United States government, has there been cases that electoral colleges don't vote for the candidate the majority of their state voted for? - History
What is the Electoral College?
At first you may think that the Electoral College is a school somewhere where people learn about politics, but that isn't the case. The Electoral College isn't even a place, it's the process that elects the president of the United States.
Don't the citizens of the U.S. elect the president?
Well, not directly. When people vote for president they are really voting for an elector from their state. Each state has a certain number of electors. These electors then vote for president.
How many electors does each state get?
Each state gets an elector for each member of Congress from that state. That is one for each member from the state in the House of Representatives (which is based on the population of the state) and two more for the state's two senators. For example, California gets 55 electors, North Carolina 15, and Wyoming 3.
How do states choose their electors?
Each state has its own rules on how electors are chosen. Usually, the political party of the presidential candidate who won the state chooses the electors.
Who can be an elector?
Pretty much anyone who can vote can be an elector. The only people prevented from being electors are certain political leaders like Senators and Representatives. Most electors are people who have been loyal and dedicated members of their political party for a long time.
Do electors have to vote a certain way?
This depends on the state. In some states there are laws requiring that electors vote the same as the people who voted for them. Most of the time electors vote as expected, but in rare cases they have changed their vote and voted for a different candidate than the people who voted for them.
In most states all the electors are awarded to one president. Even if one candidate won by a single popular vote, they would get all the electoral votes. So it is possible that one popular vote in California could make the difference of 55 electoral votes. There are two states, Maine and Nebraska, that split up the electors between the candidates.
Pros and Cons of the Electoral College
Today, many people think that the Electoral College should be abolished and that the total popular vote should determine the president. Here are some of the arguments for and against the Electoral College: