Power of State Legislatures

…State Legislatures have the authority to replace their state’s appointed electors after the popular vote with their own instead of following the decision of the parties.  Florida’s Republican Legislature was prepared to do so in 2000 if the Supreme Court had not decided in Bush’s favor in Bush vs. Gore.  Consider this excerpt from the Washington Post (July 19, 2004):


“Suppose that some of the electors -- the people who under our constitutional system conduct the real presidential election some weeks after voters go to the polls -- aren't actually selected by the voters.

Impossible? Not if you give a close reading to the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Bush v. Gore, which finally settled the presidential election of 2000, if not to everyone's satisfaction. Under that decision, there is no guarantee that the electors who are decisive in choosing the next president of the United States will themselves be selected by the people of the United States.

That's because the justices ruled in that case that state legislatures have unlimited authority to determine whether citizens in their respective states shall be allowed to vote for president at all.

"The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States," the court said, "unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College."

Imagine, now, a state in which the same party controls both houses of the legislature and the governor's office. There would presumably be no partisan impediment to the state legislature, with the governor's approval, deciding that the majority party in state government shall control the state's electoral vote, regardless of any popular vote in the state.

The ordinary protection against this sort of usurpation is presumably the "outrage factor" -- the idea that no legislature would risk the wrath of the citizenry by usurping their right to vote. But in 2000, unfortunately, Florida demonstrated that legislators might well be willing to risk the outrage if they have a case, no matter how contestable, that the electors they are choosing actually do represent majority sentiment in the state."

Unlucky Luck

Ignoring Your Vote

More Options

Vague Values

Electoral Replacements

Electoral Tie

Favorite Son Effect

A Few States Wins

Constitutional Residence

State Size

Special Interests


Electoral College Table of Contents

December 21st 2008
Choose President by National Popular Vote
Wichita Eagle

Co-President of Wichita-Metro League of Women Voters cites FairVote in argument for National Popular Vote

December 17th 2008
Electoral College debate reignites
Small Newspaper Group (Illinois)

The debate over the Electoral College reignites in the land of Lincoln.

December 16th 2008
Flunking Electoral College
Baltimore Sun

Editorial making the case against the electoral college.

December 15th 2008
Group Works To Weaken Electoral College Process

National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered,' -- News story featuring comments from FairVote's Rob Richie.

December 15th 2008
Cruise keeps local elector from historic Obama vote
Quad Cities Online

FairVote's Adam Fogel quoted on the National Popular Vote plan.

[ Previous ] [ Next ]