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

Presidential electors meet to cast votes

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" 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. Matt

    @ RichMo

    And should probably READ THINGS before speaking in such an uninformed manner. There is plenty of case law and other legal writings defining and contemplating what it means to be a "natural born" citizen. You, sir, have it all wrong.

    December 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. James

    Hurry up and vote this idiot in so that we can begin his impeachment process. Impeach OBAMA! 2008 the year that Acorn stole the election!

    December 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. obama-mama


    December 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. Matt

    @ Florio

    Just so you know, he has a birth certificate and it has been verified by the appropriate officials in Hawaii. The lawsuits you people are depending on to end your nightmare of America becoming a freer and more open society are all just fabrications and conspiracy theories and the SCOTUS has said as much by rejecting the appeals as it has. And just so you know, as well, that is a FINAL decision. Trying to bring further challenges to his citizenship or challenges to legislation he has signed based on an underlying challenge to his citizenship...that's not going to get you ANYWHERE...and it certainly won't lock up the administration and waste our time out of spite. The country will keep on chugging forward without you.

    December 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Ken in Dallas

    Good grief, can you desperate losers get off the birth certificate thing? It doesn't matter if Obama was born on Mars, if either parent was a US citizen at the time of his birth. The whole argument stinks.

    Republican dreams of one-party rule are over.

    'Nuff said.

    December 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Matt

    @ Kevin

    It works both ways buddy. The electoral college also prevents geographic representation from overpowering population representation. I know it makes you sad, but we also don't elect people based on silly maps coloring in entire counties either red or blue based on what the majority of people in that county voted. Fact is, many people in red or blue counties voted the opposite of the color of that county on that map you're looking at to make your fake point. I know it's hard to accept, but the world's not black and white...nor is it red or blue.

    December 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Gene

    So what they're saying is that these "electors" are basically going to waste a whole day and our taxpayer money to go cast votes that count for absolutely nothing? 🙂

    Would it be constitutional to remove this vote that counts for absolutely nothing?

    December 15, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. Iowa Mom


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

    Keep wishing.

    December 15, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |

    I believe that the people behind the ridiculous lawsuits questioning Obama’s citizenship are doing this based on discrimination, not because of his race but because of his name. I am certain that if his name was Barry Jenkins or Barack Johnson none of these frivolous lawsuits would ever have been filed.

    I don’t know what I like better; the fact that Barack Hussein Obama will be President or that the haters have to deal with him for the next 4-8 years.

    And to those whose opinions are rock solid that will never let this go, look on the bright side. If you’re right then you can run Arnold in 2012, talk about landslide.

    December 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Beverly, NYC

    RichMo December 15th, 2008 1:28 pm ET: Get over yourself already. What decisions did your parents make on your behalf as a toddler that we can now hold against you. Please use your head for more than keeping your ears apart.

    December 15, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Hannah

    Ok. Whatever your personal opinions are, at this rate they don't matter. Obama is the president elect and there is nothing you can do about it. You shouldn't be mad or disappointed, because it is what it is. If you wanted mccain, i am sorry, but obama is president. You should be supporting him in all the descisions he makes because it is your country, as well as his. You have a right to be disappointed, but you also have a right to realize the truth and move on.

    December 15, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Ravi

    To "C the Change":

    Abolishing the electoral college and going by popular vote would be the worst possible thing we could do. Popular vote means allowing CA and NY to drown out the voices of small states like WY, VT, ND, and DE. Nothing makes me cringe more than this idea of "one person one vote".

    We are a nation of STATES, which are each partially sovereign nations of people. The electoral college allows all states to have some say, while still giving them some proportional influence. Plus, going by popular vote would mean that Obama would have never campaigned in Indiana or Colorado!

    By the way, I am a die hard Dem and Obama supporter, but I'm also a strong defender of what the Founders intended us to be: A Federation of States, and not a uniform democracy.

    December 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Charles Atlanta

    Welcome to the Obama era!! After January 20th, it will be solely him to determine his own legacy. From what we have seen so far, he is pretty capable of being a great president. Now, I would like to give suggestion to whomever still questioning his citizenship, labelling him as socialist,..., STOP and be mature!!

    December 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. Twilight Zone

    This is starting to really spook me. Cheney presiding over this idiotic vote stuff, like the election in Nov was a fraud or something. Everytime I read the news it is more bs from the current admin. or some hypergreedy bastard. Is anyone having a hard time sleeping at night these days and not just cause of economic circumstances? Is anyone feeling like we're teetering on the edge of some sick fascist/marxist takeover? How much more vicious perpetrations are we going to see before Jan 20? More and more I feel so edgy for our country. Is anyone elses nerves all ajingle these days?

    December 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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