December 15th, 2008
12:17 PM ET
5 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. mb

    Electors in Indiana have officially cast our votes for Barack Obama as the 44th POTUS and Joe Biden as VPOTUS.
    Yea, may God Bless our new leaders and may God Bless the United States of America.

    December 15, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. tired of corporate politics

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

    And if the electors did, Obama and his "people" would come find you!

    Now that politicians like Obama have the system figured out, we should definitely change to a real popular vote. Can you imagine how the corporate thugs in a campaign like Obama's or McCains's would react? Instead of manipulating and buying votes they would have to come up with actual good ideas.

    December 15, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Joey

    Dear NY Republican, President Obama will be your president too.

    I bet you didn't find anything about the political process useless when they were doing it for Bush.

    Be a big kid, stop whining, and Join the celebration

    Obama 2012

    December 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. VOTED! OBAMA!!! VOTED! OBAMA!! VOTED!

    I still disagree with the electoral college. Why do we the people get our say and the electoral college can over turn it if they wish? I hate our process and we need to take a serious look at it.

    December 15, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. yo

    wow stay safe

    December 15, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Crews2me

    Congratulations President-elect Obama! You will start with a lot of good will in my book. Take your time and along with congress put this country on the right footing!

    December 15, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. tired of corporate politics

    "Post the Names of the Electors if they went against ..."

    And we can create hearings for un-american activities (see: Joe McCarthy and the 1950's)

    Always questions authority! It is patriotic to do so....

    December 15, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Emmanuel

    Barack should support Caroline Kennedy for Senator from New York. Barack should support whoever sorurtted him. Caraline Kennedy came out and just as her Uncle Ted , took a chance on Barrack Obama. Obama should support Caroline Kennedy if she wishes to be Senator from New York

    Obama is giving the impression that hes going to cow tow to the right. I worked for Obama, if he cow tows, I will turn against him. Support Caroline.

    December 15, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Mari

    @ "Welcome to the OBAMA show"........ DO YOU REALLY HAVE SUCH LITTLE FAITH IN ........YOUR GOVERNMENT......... THAT WOULD YOU BELIEVE THE..........LIES FROM THE FAR-RIGHT-NUTS?

    DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT THE NSA, FBI, CIA & CONGRESS.....INCLUDING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WOULD NOT........CHECK..........THE CITIZENSHIP OF........BARACK OBAMA??

    TRULY YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

    December 15, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. josh

    Yeah... and why do our votes count?????????

    December 15, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Soccer Nana

    Welcome to the Obama Show, you are off of your medication aren't you? Please do not hurt yourself or anyone else. Dial 911 and tell the operator you need help.

    Obama won the election

    Obama WAS NOT born in Kenya (his Kenyan grandfather hated his the FACT that his mother was White)

    Obama WAS born in Hawaii

    Obama will be YOUR president , like it or not.

    Peace to you. xxooxx

    December 15, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Peter (CA)

    Obama Show-State of Hawaii says the birth certificate is real and verified. Now will you take your medication?

    December 15, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. John Galt in Colorado

    WHO IS JOHN GALT?

    December 15, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. NY republican

    Joey – he already is my President (elect). And yes the Electoral College was just as useless when President Bush was elected, both of them, both times. As were ALL of the law siuts in 2000, AL GORE'S included (yes Virginia, Al Gore and the Democrats had their share of election law suits in 2000, they just ignore that part). Anyway, it's just a bit of humor (kind of like SNL), relax.

    December 15, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Tiaunia, Dallas

    This process is one of the reasons I've always been turned off by politics...and why most people don't get out and vote. It's a slap in the face....

    Who cares what their vote is, the American people have already spoken....Oh but I guess election day didn't count.

    Go figure.

    December 15, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Even though I am glad that Obama won on Nov 4th, I still strongly dislike our system of indirect voting. The Electoral College is outdated and needs to be replaced by a direct popular vote system.

    December 15, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. NY republican

    Joey – he already is my President (elect). And yes the Electoral College was just as useless when President Bush was elected, both of them, both times. As were ALL of the law siuts in 2000, AL GORE'S included (yes Virginia, Al Gore and the Democrats had their share of election law suits in 2000, they just ignore that part). Anyway, it's just a bit of humor (kind of like SNL), relax. By the way, I am joining the celebration, I'm the one thinking it "would be great if they brought beer", remember.

    December 15, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. Matt

    @ Welcome to the Obama Show!!!

    I think we can put you in the same romper room facility as Palin...complete with bib, helmet and sippy cup.

    December 15, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    The Electoral College absolutely still makes sense. The President is elected as the executive of the collective STATES, not of the individuals who reside therein. This conce[pt has fallen out of contemporary awareness but is still consitutionally valid. Our representatives are in Congress, and they are elected by popular vote.

    December 15, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. That One

    @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!!!!!!!!!!!

    ______________________________________________________

    You need to get a grip of yourself, really!

    December 15, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Paul, Riverside, CA

    CNN wouldn't be trying to create some drama where it's not needed would they?

    December 15, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. Thomas

    If any of you is interested in learning more about the Electoral College, the National Archives website has all the information.

    Sure it is an antiquated system, but it does work.

    There have been over 700 proposed amendments to the Constitution (more than for any issue) and none of them have survived.

    In order to change the Constitution we would need 3/4 of all the states to ratify it. Many of the smaller states would not support this.

    All in all, it aint that bad of a system.

    With all the problems we have running elections, until we come up with a better system, we might as well stick to the Electoral College.

    December 15, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Glenn

    The Electoral college is a a very neat and cool system. I support it. And Electors have always voted according to their states. These faithless electors and whatever are far and in between and never affect the outcome. The media is just trying to raise controversy and we fall right for it. And it gives us a balance. Otherwise, if we just relied on the popular vote, candidates would just run in big states. I like the fact that swing states have become a reality. No country does everything solely on a popular vote. Prime Ministers are elected based on an electoral college where what ever party wins the most seats in Parliament or Congress. We have to stop playing the victim. None of these systems take away from your vote. Even proportional representation votes for the party more than the person but it still doesnt harm democracy. So lets stop whining and celebrate a new era. Sometimes i think Democracy has created a nation of whiners.

    December 15, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. Andrew

    The electoral college is a good thing. It makes sure that Congress, not the President is the direct represenative and voice of the people. Look at Venezuela and Russia. They directly elect their presidents and they have a virtual dictatorship each. Also, we have a federalist system, so keeping the states in the process is very important.

    December 15, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Here's a thought.
    What if some of the electors who were supposed to vote for McCain, switch their vote for Obama instead?

    Didn't this happen when Hillary's superdelegates switched over to Obama during the Primaries?

    December 15, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
1 2 3 4

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.