What are faithless electors and will they affect the 2020 elections?

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Electors to the electoral college are supposed to represent their state’s popular vote and almost always do. But what if they don’t? President Trump’s refusal to concede the election and the Republican Party’s efforts to question the vote are leading some to wonder about the possibility of so-called faithless electors.

Faithless elector

“A faithless elector is somebody who does not vote for president of the United Staes, who is a member of the electoral college, who is pledged to vote for the winner of the popular vote in a given state,” said attorney Robert McWhirter.

McWhirter reminds the viewers that in the electoral college system, the voter does not directly vote for the president; their vote competes for a slate of electors obliged to submit an electoral vote representative of the popular vote for a state.

It would be highly unlikely for faithless electors to affect the vote, according to McWhirter. McWhirter notes that the only time faithless electors have affected the vote was when Horace Greenley won the popular vote but died before the electors could vote.

Electors in the electoral college

The Constitution states that state legislators have the responsibility of choosing electors. Arizona statute 16-212 states that any “presidential elector who knowingly refuses to cast that elector’s electoral college vote” will lose their position and be replaced with another elector.

Theoretically, a law could be passed to allow electors to vote for whomever they want, said McWhirter. “It is such a violation of popular will that I don’t see any legislator going out of their way to that,” according to McWhirter who notes previous attempts in the past being shot down.

“The original intent of the electoral college wasn’t to be the tool of the parties; the original intent was to avoid populism,” said McWhirter emphasizing the Found Father’s apprehension of “too much democracy.”

Robert McWhirter, attorney

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