The Arizona State Legislature passed HB 2302 by a vote of 34-24 in February. The bill adds two statutes to the Arizona constitution making it illegal for presidential electors to vote against their party’s candidate. An elector would be automatically ineligible to serve should they choose to put conscience above party loyalty.
Once the elector’s intentions are revealed, the state party chair would appoint a person to replace him or her, who would then cast the electoral vote.
For those following the latest presidential election, this development should not come as a surprise. Many electors in “red” states throughout the country were being pressured to “vote their conscience” by casting their vote for someone else other than Donald Trump.
This was obviously less than convenient for the Republican Party, whose chosen electors were being asked to defy the voters of their state, and go against their party’s candidate. This was especially true of Arizona electors, who reported receiving hundreds of emails and calls urging them to change their votes.
Two Republican Texas electors, Chris Suprun and Bill Greene, ended up not voting for the party’s designated candidate.
The Republican-controlled Arizona State Legislature seems to be trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again, by making it a state requirement that party electors must vote for their party’s nominee.
The problem is that bills like this seem to be only moving us further away from the original intent of the Electoral College.
When the Electoral College was instituted in the Constitutional Convention, the fear was to prevent anything that would endanger the federal republic — whether that meant a further swing toward direct democracy or a movement toward despotism. That’s why they set up a system where people were actually voting for a “trusted elector” in the form of a representative democracy as opposed to a direct democracy, which still surprises many.
So important was this trust that in the final draft of the Constitution, it said no federally elected official or person holding “an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States” could serve in the capacity of a member of the Electoral College.
While the system is already very party controlled, is mandating party loyalty really going to solve anything?