Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Depending upon how the U.S. Supreme Court decides, it is entirely possible that in some states voters in the electoral college will be able to ignore the results of their state's popular vote and vote for whoever they want.
Should that occur, those who say "Why bother to vote, it won't even count anyway," could end up being right.
The Washington Post reports today that the high court will consider whether states can punish or replace "faithless" presidential electors who refuse to support their state's popular vote winner, or whether the U.S. Constitution forbids such a restriction.
“It is possible that a presidential election could turn on just a few disputed electoral votes cast in purported violation of state law,” said a petition filed by three electors who faced fines from the state of Washington for not supporting Hillary Clinton, the winner of that state’s popular vote in 2016. “It is not entirely clear how that would play out — but there is a very real risk of substantial unrest, or worse, if that does happen,” The Post reported.
In addition to the Washington case, the Supreme Court accepted a separate case from Colorado. A brief filed on behalf of the states said 32 states and the District of Columbia require electors to vote for the state's winner, and asked the Court to make it clear that there is no constitutional prohibition of such laws.
The state of Washington said in its brief, that to do otherwise “would mean that only 538 Americans — members of the Electoral College — have a say in who should be president; everything else is simply advisory.”
Meanwhile, a brief filed by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig and the group Equal Citizens asserted that nothing in the Constitution actually requires electors to actually vote in accordance with their state's popular vote.
"There is no mechanism for state officials to monitor, control, or dictate electoral votes," the brief said. "Instead, the right to vote in the Constitution and federal law is personal to the electors, and it is supervised by the electors themselves."
If that position is upheld by the Court, then what's the sense in having an election? Let's just vote for our favorite "electors" and let them decide. What kind of democracy is that?
No wonder there is such a clamor to do away with the Electoral College. Let's hope the Supreme Court brings some sense and reason to this mess in time for the 2020 election.