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. Kevin in Ohio

    For all those opposed to the Electoral College concept..... thankfully, our founding fathers foresaw the power of regionalism and instituted this method of selecting our president. The day is not far off when all the votes in California and New York alone may be enough to elect a president if it were one man-one vote. Voyes from the rest of the country would be rendered meaningless. If you don't belive this, take a quick look at USA Today's county-by-county map of the election.... and see how very little blue there is.

    December 15, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Bo

    Hey,

    The shoe the the was thrown at Prez Bush was meant for the chezzey GOP cheese ball party.

    SUPPORT OBAMA....GO OBAMA...GO.

    Jelious GOP

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

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

    ALSO CHECK THE RECORDS OF BIRTH IN KENYA!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thats alreadt been done. Have you ever heard of the State of Hawaii. I was there I know it exists, and they already certified his Birth Certificate. It's people like you THAT WASTE TIME AND MONEY, NOT THE ELECTORS. THANK yOU iNDIANA

    December 15, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Glenn

    The fatc that every state plays a role in electing the President. A lot of people in other countries find that interesting even cool. As states come in with projections, its like watching a sporting event. Its greta to have a system that produces excitement and interest. The EC vote is just a formality. If there was any change, I think maybe the disbanding of the office of Elector but still use the Electoral College as a calculaor or points system. 270 points to win. Which is pretty much what it is now. Only difference of change would be, there would be no formal electors voting. Still, we are a Federal Representative Democratic Republic, which means we delegate representatives to speak for the people. The Electoral College reflects that.

    December 15, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. RobfromPA

    I agree that electing our president should reflect the will of the people. However, we need to remember that this country is a republic, not a democracy. The difference is that we are made up of sovereign states, and it is the states who "vote" for president. In the good old days, the state legislators voted for the electors.

    There are several important reasons why the current system works, but the biggest reason is that is forces candidates to campaign and win nation-wide. If a straight popular vote was used, all a candidate would have to do is get votes from the east and west coasts and ignore everyone in between.

    December 15, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Mike

    WOW!!!!!!!! We can do a B******** Vote Like This!!!!! But no one did this for the Idiot we have in office now!!!!!!!! I can't believe he won 2 terms in Popular vote!!!!!!! Now that Bush has screwed up the country, we IDIOTS THINKING OBAMA CAN MAKE IT WORSE!!!!??????? GET A CLUE IDIOTS!!!!!!!! WHERE YOU ARE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE BUCKET AS THE US TRUELY IS!!!!!!!! WHERE ELSE CAN YOU GO BUT UP!!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. I'm Early!!

    Misinformed fifteen year olds from Canada can start their anti-Obama hate blogs now

    December 15, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Terri

    Exactly what is the system that Obama has figured out? The electoral college has worked the same for every presidential election and the idea is very simple. Nothing to figure out there.

    December 15, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Iowa Mom

    Lord, give it a rest "Welcome to the Obama Show".

    December 15, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Clarence (Florida)

    I support the Electoral College! When I witnessed the millions of simply confused people vote for McCain and Palin I understand why we have to have a way to make sure we do not have and Old Dying man and a Woman how does not know African is not a country. The Obama election is one of the few time in recent history that the American people actually go it right. Remember the crazy lady who said Obama was Arab – she truly believed that based on the lies she has read and heard. When have to have a system that protects our country and constitution from ideas that are dangerous.

    December 15, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Amber

    Abolish the electoral college!

    ONE vote in Wyoming is equal to FOUR votes in California.
    UNFAIR and UNDEMOCRATIC!!!

    December 15, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Suzi

    I'm looking forward to the inauguration and the positive, forward looking programs that Obama has in store for us. Now we will have a real chance to resolve the long-term problems that have come to a crisis point.

    May God bless you and keep you, President-elect Obama, your staff, this country, and each and every person reading this.

    December 15, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. maurice

    do away with the electoral college it hasnt always worked....look at 2000 and 2004. not only that the population of the electoral college can over throw the will and votes of the greater population. just by a canidate winning several key states and not the popular vote..............

    December 15, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Marc

    RichMo-December 15th, 2008 1:30 pm ET
    Read the laws before spilling your ignorance.
    Dual citizenship at birth is really common and natural given the fact that his father was Kenyan (and never wanted to change his citizenship) and his mother was American. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it illegal.
    Secondly, the Supreme Court has already ruled many times on the issue of American citizenship, and at least twice on the issue of dual citizenship, and IF any of the legal chalenges on Obama's citizenship or elegibility was strong and good enough (as in 'it's not hateful biased hot air but has its legal values'), then they would have accepted the case and discussed it, regardless of the political implicarions.
    Finally, anyone can challenge in court a President's decision, as long as he/she/they have base for it and the legal right to, so what's new?

    December 15, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. NJVote08

    OMG! Whiners please give it up! Obama IS the 44th President of the USA like it or not! Now, let us all work together to clean up this mess that our country is in.

    Lots of love to you all... and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    December 15, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. Is it Jan 20th yet?

    And, now that everyone who matter has verified that Obama was born in Hawaii (not Kenya or Mars or wherever....) here is what the GOP bloggers will hit us with next – Obama's mother had a (gasp) C-section, therefore he is not a 'natural born' US citizen!!!, blah blah blah....get over it

    December 15, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Disappointed

    Reading through these comments makes me sad for America. A bunch of half-wit intellectual wannabes trying to undermine the validity of an incoming president that even the staunchest republicans know deep down was the best choice. Cry wolf somewhere else you children. If his legitimacy to be president was even close to questionable, it would have been found out and reported a thousand times over. You think the vetting process to become president isn't the most stringent anywhere?? Get real. You can all eat your words when Obama turns this steaming mess Bush left us with into something at least halfway decent.

    December 15, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Alex

    I wish they would switch their votes, considering obama still has no experience and is not the best fit for president!

    December 15, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. Len

    Rich Mo and Florio,

    You both need a life.

    December 15, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Al, California

    Obama is a clear winner, and really our great luck to have finally a great president after you know what.
    But for future the outdated electoral college system must be replaced by national election. One person is one vote, very simple. No matter whether it is California or Alabama or Indiana. One person – one vote.

    December 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. Peter

    I think the Electoral College is good in some ways, but can be very corrupt at some points. I mean really, its the Electoral College that made Bush the president...

    December 15, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Blue is my favourite colour

    @ WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW:

    WHAZZZZZZZUPPPPPP?

    Get off the birth certificate thingee already – it has been addressed, redressed, and there ain't gonna be any more investigations on it–no matter how many times you write posts to CNN bringing it up so stop it already.

    December 15, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Matt

    @ RichMo

    If indeed the GOP and all the nasty morons out there (because yes, there are nice morons too) find themselves a lawyer or two who shares their equally narrow-minded world view and they challenge every law Obama signs on the basis of this fake citizenship issue, the SCOTUS will reject them all outright, just like it is doing with these appeals. Youre' welcome to go about breaking laws as your version of protest, however, as I would love to see people like you spend lots of time out of circulation with the rest of rational society.

    December 15, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Mike in Ca

    The days of right wing, hateful, ignorant nuts is mercifully coming to a close.

    December 15, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. Dear RichMo

    You are just adorable.

    December 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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