How 2.4 Million Washingtonians Were Robbed of Their Votes

A headline like this would probably bring an alphabet soup of federal agencies into the state. That did not happen.

What did happen when over 2.4 million American citizens’ votes were nullified? Four thousand dollars in fines. That translates to $0.00055 per vote. That is what happened when four “faithless” electors in Washington state voted against their constituency.

The term “faithless elector” is used when a state’s presidential elector casts their ballot against the vote of their constituency. The record number of faithless electors for any given presidential election prior to 2016 was one. That record was shattered last year with 7 total nationwide.

Draw what conclusion you choose, three of the four in Washington state voted for the same candidate, actually crossing party lines to cast their ballots.

Washington has 12 electoral votes, and, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management (as of April 1, 2017), an estimated population of just over 7.3 million. Simple division reveals that each Washington elector’s vote carries the weight of over 609,000 American citizens.

Whether or not these electors, personally, agree with the voters, their responsibility lies with the constituency they represent.

Shockingly, according to the government’s archived Electoral College site:

“…There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by state law and those bound by pledges to political parties…”

Thirty states, plus the District of Columbia, require electors to vote in accordance with their constituency’s vote through state laws. A glaring problem with that is only six of those states cancel a faithless vote, and only five provide any penalty for this action against American voters.

The record number of Electoral College ballots cast against the popular vote could give leverage to those who would do away with the entire electoral system, and the democratic republic that is America, in favor of a true popular democracy. Such a response would be devastating, and, fortunately, would require an act of Congress.

The Founding Fathers warned of some of these dangers. Ben Franklin said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”. And, Thomas Jefferson added, “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.”

Clearly, though, our system needs some kind of reform. These seven faithless electors could be just the beginning of an electoral revolution that could see larger numbers in 2020.