Javert Rovinski, on Jul 30 2003, 04:31 PM, said:
States, however, are free to pas laws forcing their electors to obey the will of the people.
It's true that States may pass, and have passed, such laws... whether or not they’re actually enforceable or not is another question. Remember, Article II, Section 1 states:
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.
Thus, the Constitution only allows the states to decide how the electors are chosen. In the Constitutional ideal, electors (theoretically presumed to be the greatest and wisest men of each State chosen by the people or the State legislature, etc.) gather together with their fellow electors at a convention in their State capitol, passionately debate with each other about whom they feel would make the best President, and cast their votes accordingly.
With this in mind, I would argue State laws that presume to tell electors what to do when they cast their vote guaranteed them by the U.S. Constitution are null and void. The fact the Constitution gives electors a vote plainly means they are bestowed with the power to make a choice -- for making a choice is the essence of voting. The Constitution granted States no power to take away the elector’s choice. Somewhat similarly, the Supreme Court has struck down State laws presuming to impose term limits on U.S. Congressmen. Mere state laws cannot alter the mechanisms of the Federal Government established by the Constitution.
Having said all that, the point is, of course, academic.
People like the idea of having the electors bound to the will of the people of the State; and nobody is really interested in challenging these laws. And if such a Supreme Court decision ever came down, I'm sure a Constitutional Amendment overruling it would be passed in short order.
I really like the congressional idea.
Congressional districts... wouldn’t those would be the pesky little things that keep leading to legislators fleeing Texas?
Under this proposal, gerrymandering would not only affect representation in the U.S. House, but the selection of the President as well. No, I've never liked the sound of that.
Another idea I’ve heard but hasn’t been mentioned in this thread: since there is no Constitutional requirement that electoral votes be awarded on a winner-take-all basis, divide each State's electoral votes based on the amount of votes cast for each candidate*. So, a State with 10 electoral votes whose populace voted 60% Republican, 30% Democratic, and 10% Green would issue 6 votes to the Republican candidate, 3 to the Democrat, and 1 to Ralph Nader.
Imagine the countless kids cursing our names as they learn the formula in Civics class and struggle through the calculations on the final exam!
Or, we could simply keep the current winner-take-all votes system, but amend the Constitution to abolish the actual casting of votes by electors in their State Capitols. The person with the most votes in each state is simply awarded all the electoral votes.
* Naturally, you’d want to include other specifics, such as perhaps a 33% of the vote threshold (since each State is guaranteed a minimum 3 electoral votes), guidelines as to when you round up, etc.