US Presidential Elections: How can I join the Electoral College?

More on faithless electors:

The Constitution requires that the electors vote “by ballot”, and the word has usually been taken to mean a secret, written ballot. (“Secret” in the sense that no one records which elector cast which vote, although in practice faithless electors have usually not been shy about outing themselves.)

There is no clear mechanism for rejecting a dual-home-state vote. If an elector should attempt to cast one, should both votes (for president and VP) be thrown out, or just one, or should the elector be warned and given a do-over? Depending on how the balloting is conducted, the latter might not even be possible.

Once the votes get to Washington, they are totals only. In 1872 Georgia cast two of 11 electoral votes for Charles Jenkins of Georgia for President, and five of 11 for Alfred Colquitt of Georgia for Vice-President. One member of Congress said, how can be sure that single elector didn’t cast one of each of those votes? There was no answer then. There is no answer today.

Does the Electoral College have a football team? Or a fight song?

What Freddy the Pig said in the first part of his response. In Minnesota each elector gets 2 ballots, one for Vice President and one for President. But know one records who filled which ballot, so there is presumably no way to know who cast what. Which is the case with the 2004 oops. No one owned up to writing John Edwards on the Presidential ballot, presumably by mistake as all Vice presidential ballots were for John Edwards.

I haven’t had time to look up the statute, but my understanding is that going forward, in such an event that electoral ballot is nullified and a vote automatically entered for candidate(s) winning the popular vote in the state. I agree this seems unlikely to be legal (but who is going to challenge it?) especially as it renders the electoral college process in Minnesota to being just some window dressing.

This may seem like a silly question, but HOW are each state’s electoral vote totals transmitted to DC? I’m sure in the old days it was via snail mail, but are they submitted electronically now? Can they be faxed in? I’m just wondering the lag time between casting electoral votes and arriving at the official (if foreordained) totals.

No question is too trivial when it comes to the Electoral College. The votes are sent by registered mail. The “money copy” goes to the Vice President in his capacity as President of the Senate.

The National Archives web site (the Archives also get a copy) has more detail than you would ever want to know.

Yes he did. In fact, he tried to correct this mistake immediately, but the Republican Secretary of State refused to allow him to do so (thereby depriving Kerry of 1 vote)*. But given his age & health, DFLer’s didn’t blame him for this mistake. It didn’t matter in the end anyway.

But we also had an issue in 2008, for Obama.

Nobody has mentioned it here, but Electors have Alternates.

The party names people as Electors, and also names some people as Alternates, in case the Electors are unable to perform their duties. In 2008, due to a snowstorm on that day in December, one of our Electors was unable to make it to the Capitol in St. Paul. So a drawing was held among the DFL alternates who were present, and one of them got to cast the vote for her. (Here in Minnesota, the parties tend to make sure that several of the Alternate Electors reside in the metro area, near the Capitol, just in case of blizzards!) Besides weather, it’s common for Electors to be elderly. I’m sure there have been cases where one of the Electors has died before the specified date for the Electoral College meeting.

*The DFL Secretary of State who replaced her has instituted new procedures, to reduce the chance of such a mistake. Electors are given the Presidential ballots first, once they are cast & collected, then they are given the Vice President ones to fill out.

Probably unnecessary as the new language put into 208.08 in 2005 pretty much makes the ballot a formality and faithless electors impossible.

There’s a real question as to weather that law would stand up to Constitutional scrutiny. (Not that it’s ever likely to be challenged.) In the California term-limits case, the Supreme Court threw them out, saying that no state could put any stricter limits on elections to Congress than were in the Constitution. It seems pretty likely that they would apply the same logic to Electors, if a case ever reached them.

But in fact, this was the whole purpose of the electoral college. The unwashed masses could not be trusted to vote directly for a candidate who would resepct the democratic process, the sanctity of property and the rule of law, based on a long reading of history going back to the Greeks. The electoral college was a way to ensure that the more responsible (i.e. the wealthy with a vested interest in the status quo) would make that decision for them. The constitution writers simply failed to see the quick evolution of party machines. Note that failing a decision by the electors, the decision fell to the senators, another body of the rich and established class, appointed by the ruling class in each state rather than elected at large by the unwashed. it also gave the smaller states an edge, so their choice would not be drowned out by an overwhelming native son vote in one of few large states.

One commentary I read suggested that the framers expected most of the time the decision would be made by the senate, unless the choice was an overwhelmingly obvious leader like Washington. Again, party organization messed that up within 8 years.

No, if no-one gets a majority for the President, the election goes to the Representatives, which has happened twice. If no-one gets a majority for the Vice-President, it goes to the Senate.

Oops. I was reading about the VP problems and got confused.

The VP election got tossed into the Senate once, after the election of 1836. Van Buren’s running mate, Richard Mentor Johnson, was not very popular and fell one vote short of a majority in the electoral college, so it went to the Senate, which elected him Vice-President.

Jeff Greenfield’s alt-hist book Then Everything Changed describes the 1960 election decision being thrown into Congress after JFK is killed between Election Day and the meeting of the Electoral College. It’s pretty interesting.

Here’s the guy who might have killed JFK three years earlier than actually happened:


Mr. Patterson, before some poopy-face gets your post deleted, would you be willing to share with us the technical details of running for president as a write-in candidate and how and when you do stuff like choose electors?