I always thought that it was made public the day that the vote occurred and that the votes were out-loud voice votes (“Gentlemen and Ladies, as a representative of the GREAT state of Texas, I cast my electoral vote for Colonel Mustard! Yee-haw!”), but I’ve read a few comments here and there that the votes are a) private and b) kept secret until they’re certified by the House(?) in early Jan.
That doesn’t sound right, but can anyone give me the straight dope on the actual laws/rules?
This post from Saint Cad quotes the Colorado law. The relevant snippet is:
So it would appear that there is no secret ballot in Colorado. No idea if other states allow a secret ballot. The FAQ from the National Archives and Records Administration says to contact your state to determine how the Electoral College process is handled there.
Looks like you are going to have to wait until January 6 when Biden makes the announcements.
“January 6, 2017: The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, is the presiding officer. Two tellers are appointed to open, present and record the votes of the States in alphabetical order. The President of the Senate announces the results of the vote and declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States. The results are entered into the official journals of the House and Senate. The President of the Senate then calls for objections to be made. If any objections are registered, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and Senate. The House and Senate would withdraw to their respective chambers to consider the merits of any objections according the procedure set out under 3 U.S.C. section 15.”
Some states, the process is completely open. You know who voted for whom right away; the result is tallied in the official fashion, that tally is sealed and transmitted as required, but the results are completely known.
Some states, the process is partially closed, partially open. The ballot may be secret (you don’t know who the faithless elector is; see, for example, Minnesota in 2004), but the results are stated at the time, before the return is made.
I doubt that it is the case that it is entirely secret in any states; the US Code sections require, IIRC, that the return from the state be signed by all the electors. That means ever elector knows the outcome; keeping them all from saying anything would be difficult, if not impossible (First Amendment rights, and all).
IIRC, the current federal law on the matter requires the electors to transmit a copy of their votes to (among other recipients) the national archives and their own state’s archives, at the same time as they transmit it to Congress. And I think that the archives are publicly-available.
I don’t know of any state that treats its electoral votes as a deep dark secret. A lot of the meetings will be broadcast live for anyone in the world to watch. C-SPAN will air a selection starting at 10:50 AM (they do this every year).
Political conventions are are private business functions. They set their own rules and policies as they see fit. They have no constitutional basis for their existence. In fact, the Founders did not envision political parties.
OTOH, the Electoral College is a constitutional requirement and its processes are governed by the Constitution and and subsequent laws.