The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case in which electoral college members seek the right to vote for a presidential candidate who didn’t win the popular vote in their state.
The high court will hear two similar cases brought by electors in Colorado and Washington. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in those two states in 2016, but some electors refused to vote for her.
The plaintiffs said the laws in those states requiring electors to vote along with the popular vote are unconstitutional.
In 2016, 10 electors voted against their state’s pledged candidate. Three were invalidated and replaced with electors who complied, and the other seven were officially recorded. As a result, Clinton lost five electoral votes (three to former GOP Secretary of State Colin Powell, one to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and one to Democratic South Dakotan activist Faith Spotted Eagle) and Trump lost two (one to Kasich and one to former Texas Rep. Ron Paul).
Four of the rogue electors belonged to Washington state, two to Texas and one to Hawaii. The invalidated votes belonged to electors in Maine (for Sanders), Minnesota (for Sanders) and Colorado (for John Kasich).
In September, a federal appeals court sided with the plaintiff in the Colorado case, Michael Baca. The decision generated concern among state officials and advocates, who fear it gives individual electors all the power — and voters none.
The Electoral College system has been a target of numerous activists over the years. Presently, many states have changed or are considering changing how their electoral votes are awarded. A national movement, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, promotes a coalition of states that have already enacted laws to award their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote — an effort aimed at democratizing the entire process. The compact, however, won’t enter legal force until states representing at least 270 electoral votes — the number needed for a candidate to win — join the coalition. Presently, the compact has states with 196 electoral votes, and needs 74 more.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case by June, with plenty of time before the 2020 U.S. presidential election in November.
Daniel Uria contributed to this report.
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