December 15th, 2008
12:17 PM ET
6 years ago

Presidential electors meet to cast votes

 Members of the Electoral College cast their vote for president and vice-president.
Members of the Electoral College cast their vote for president and vice-president.

(CNN) - The 538 members of the Electoral College gathered in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia on Monday to exercise their constitutional prerogative and cast their votes for president and vice president.

While Obama won 365 electoral votes on Election Night, compared to 173 for McCain, there is no constitutional provision or federal law requiring electors to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their states.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have passed laws requiring electors to back the winner of the statewide popular vote, but the Supreme Court has never specifically ruled on the question of whether such requirements are constitutional.

According to the National Archives, a "faithless elector" has never been prosecuted for refusing to vote in accordance with his or her state's popular vote.

There is no chance, however, that the electors will overturn Barack Obama's November 4 victory.

Over the course of American electoral history, more than 99 percent of electors have voted as pledged. Presidential electors are almost always loyal partisan activists chosen by state parties or presidential campaigns as a reward for their political service.

In those rare recent circumstances in which an elector has refused to vote for his or her party's presidential nominee, the elector has instead usually chosen to either abstain or vote for another member of the same party.

Most recently, for example, a 2004 Democratic elector in Minnesota supported vice presidential nominee John Edwards for president, instead of presidential nominee John Kerry.

A joint session of Congress - presided over by outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney - will be held on January 8 to count the electoral votes from every state and the District of Columbia.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. jeh15

    I highly doubt that when Obama won both the popular vote as well as the majority of the electoral college vote, that his 4 November wins will get overturned. If it were to happen, that would be an ultimate rejection of the will of the people. No it won't happen.

    December 15, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. RichMo

    Obama admittedly held dual-citizenship at birth. (also on Obama's factcheck.org) AT BIRTH. Not Narural-born. if there is admitted dual-citizenship, there's nothing NATURAL about it. The Supreme Court chose not to rule on Obama's Natural-Born Status.

    If the electors "rubber-stamp" Obama & don't uphold their oath, to faithfully support the Constitution, then NOT ONE of them will request more clarity on Obama's admitted dual-citizenship AT BIRTH.

    Precident will be set. The first admitted dual-citizen at birth will be elected POTUS. Half the country will know this when Mr. Obama places his hand on the Bible Jan 20.

    How can he take an oath he's admittedly broken? No doubt, every Law, every Executive Order, every military action will be brought back to SCOTUS. This is not to be taken lightly.

    December 15, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. RichMo

    Mr. Obama admittedly held dual-citizenship at birth. (also on Obama's factcheck.org) AT BIRTH. Not Narural-born. if there is admitted dual-citizenship, there's nothing NATURAL about it. The Supreme Court chose not to rule on Obama's Natural-Born Status.

    If the electors "rubber-stamp" Obama & don't uphold their oath, to faithfully support the Constitution, then NOT ONE of them will request more clarity on Obama's admitted dual-citizenship AT BIRTH. Precident will be set. The first admitted dual-citizen at birth will be elected POTUS.

    Half the country will know this when Mr. Obama places his hand on the Bible Jan 20. How can he take an oath he's admittedly broken? No doubt, every Law, every Executive Order, every military action will be brought back to SCOTUS. This is not to be taken lightly.

    December 15, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. you know it

    Change the system. One vote per person and let us decide who we want. Thank God Obama won. America always make things so difficult. But I guess that's how it is when you run the show.

    December 15, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. C the change

    I would love to see electoral college done away with. I know it would take amending the constitution but would be worth it. The electoral college no longer makes sense in this mondern age. It funny all of the people advocating change in 2000 have been silent on this. I for this election it worked out, but the next election could be decided by the supreme court. I think Obama seems like the type that would be open to doing what it takes to get ride of the electoral college once the economic crisis is over with.

    December 15, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Jackie in Dallas

    God, I hope we have someone keeping an eye on Cheney! Wouldn't put it past him to try and screw up the electoral vote, just as a farewell gesture, you know.

    December 15, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. That Other Jerry

    OK, here's where the tinfoil-hat crowd inserts all their theories about how Obama isn't really a natural-born citizen, how the electoral vote could still go the other way, yada yada... How about just for fun, this time you all just skip it and go back to reading your National Enquirer?

    December 15, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Peggy - TX

    Here come the sore losers trying as they often do to try and connect the dots between Obama and the latest scum bag politician to be exposed as corrupt even if it means stretching insignificant facts, creating details out of thin air, and relying on innuendo because they are so terribly desperate to some how diminish our next President. They do not care if truth, American ideals, or America way of life is sacrificed in the progress. And it is lack of obvious moral convections, which is why the Republican Party is weaker then the Liberian party right now.

    December 15, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Precious Coker, NY

    They should vote for Bush, or is he on the ballot?

    December 15, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. President McCain

    It could happen.

    December 15, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BEFORE YOU VOTE MAKE SURE THAT OBAMA HAS A REAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND IT IS VERIFIED.

    ALSO CHECK THE RECORDS OF BIRTH IN KENYA!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. boered1

    HMMM Presided over by Cheney guess that gives the moronic Republicans one final chance to steal the election McCain shouldn't give up his hope.. heck neither should the liar hillary who knows what the clintons might have up their sleeves...

    December 15, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Laverne

    Congratulations Mr. President!

    December 15, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Omolaoye Adekunle

    If Elector vote or not Obama has won, but i would like the idea of Elector also vote according to there wish

    December 15, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. NY republican

    "...and wouldn't be great if they brought beer, not just any beer but ...". This is THE MOST USELESS part of the election besides the all night "news" coverage.

    December 15, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. hubie nelson 68

    SHAME, shame, shame@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    December 15, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. jean

    President-elect Obama is keeping his promise to us all to bring honor and integrity back to politics.
    There are a lot of haters out there who hope he wil stumble. But, our prayers and patriotism for this nation will keep him and his cambinet lifted up.

    For the first time in my adult life... I am so proud of this nation....
    I have always been patriotic...my service to this nation proves that, but today I am proud.

    December 15, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. patNY

    Don't be surprised if Cheney riggs the electoral count and Bush is elected to a third term!

    December 15, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. L.V.

    I just wanted to comment on a previous article.

    I am one to say that I do NOT like George Doublya... but I think that was very disrespectful for that guy to throw those shoes at him.

    That reporter could have been a little more respectful... George is gonna be gone soon and we have a really good guy coming in.. but we are all still Americans and I personally dont appreciate the disrespect he received from that Iraqi reporter.

    December 15, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Tony

    We need to Post the Names of the Electors if they went against the American peoples vote. Lets make this transparent as possible. The electors party Affiliation etc. Ha,Ha,Ha

    December 15, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Ken

    I think that it is a great time in our history to maybe have the "Elector's" vote different and not put Obama over the edge. I would like to see Obama then react to such an event!

    December 15, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Michael

    There are number of useless exercises in the US and this is one of them. The nation can save money, time and efforts by getting rid of all these useless activities. Be productive not useless.

    December 15, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BEFORE YOU VOTE MAKE SURE THAT OBAMA HAS A REAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND IT IS VERIFIED.

    ALSO CHECK THE RECORDS OF BIRTH IN KENYA!!!!!!!!!!!
    ...

    December 15, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Chris in MI

    This is one of the most useless practices in the election process. They need to do away with it and go with the popular vote.

    December 15, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. Chris

    The Electoral College should be scraped and we move toward a popular vote only!!!

    December 15, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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