Publisher's note: This post, by Andy Jackson, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
When electors meet across the county to vote for president in December of 2016, the vast majority of them voted according to the popular vote of their states. In fact, 32 states and the District of Columbia required them to do so.
However, that did not stop several so-called "faithless
" electors from voting for someone other than the person who won the popular vote in their state. One of them, Bret Chiafalo, also sued
his home state of Washington over a $1,000 fine the state gave him for voting for Colin Powell instead of Hilary Clinton.
Today, the US Supreme Court upheld
Washington's law upheld law requiring electors to vote for their state's popular vote winner and a similar law in Colorado (and, by extension, similar laws in other states).
North Carolina also binds its electors. GS 163-212
states (bold added):
- Any presidential elector having previously signified his consent to serve as such, who fails to attend and vote for the candidate of the political party which nominated such elector, for President and Vice-President of the United States at the time and place directed in G.S.163-210 (except in case of sickness or other unavoidable accident) shall forfeit and pay to the State five hundred dollars ($500.00), to be recovered by the Attorney General in the Superior Court of Wake County. In addition to such forfeiture, refusal or failure to vote for the candidates of the political party which nominated such elector shall constitute a resignation from the office of elector, his vote shall not be recorded, and the remaining electors shall forthwith fill such vacancy as hereinbefore provided.
So, as upheld by the US Supreme Cout, trying to be a faithless elector in North Carolina will not only cost you $500, it would be a futile gesture because your vote would not be counted and you would be immediately replaced.
In case you are curious, here is a video
of North Carolina's last (perhaps overly ceremonial) electoral college meeting in December of 2016.