January 27, 2020
From Chris Farrell’s Op-Ed for The Daily Caller:
As the 2020 election approaches, the Electoral College is coming under increasing fire. Critics of the college were outraged in 2016 when Donald Trump broke Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall” and narrowly won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, giving him an electoral victory, while Clinton’s overperformance in California and New York gave her a popular plurality and a three million vote edge. (How many of those California votes were legitimate is another question.) This made Donald Trump the second Republican president this century to be elected with fewer popular votes than his opponent. Since then, Democrats have been mostly critical of the Electoral College, and Elizabeth Warren has pledged she wants to be the last president elected by it.
After the 2016 upset, a group of electors, one of whom was Michael Baca of Colorado, tried to organize others to either swing the outcome of the race against Trump or throw the election into the House of Representatives. These so-called “Hamilton electors” evoked Alexander Hamilton’s view that the Electoral College should be a deliberative body not bound by the view of those who appointed them.
In practice, presidential elections have moved far from what they were at the time of the founding. Slates of electors chosen by popular vote quickly became the norm, and the “faithless elector” was considered an eccentric oddity. Yet due to faithless voting, Donald Trump lost two 2016 electoral votes in Texas to Ron Paul and John Kasich. Hillary Clinton lost one Hawaii vote to Bernie Sanders and four from Washington state, three of which went to Colin Powell and one to Native American activist Faith Spotted Eagle. The Washington state electors were fined $1,000 each for their faithless vote, which the Washington State Supreme Court upheld.
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