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Balance of Power

Allow us to punish faithless electors, nearly half the states ask Supreme Court

There are now 23 states asking the Supreme Court to answer a basic question about the process of electing the president: Can they bind a member of the Electoral College to vote for the state's popular vote winner?

A group of 22 states on Wednesday asked the court to take up a case involving a so-called faithless elector in Colorado, who was dismissed and replaced in 2016 after refusing to vote for Hilary Clinton even though she won the state's popular vote. The elector challenged his dismissal in a lawsuit, which a lower court allowed to move forward.

The brief from Colorado's allies argues the court should reverse that decision, effectively giving a green light for states to enforce laws that require an elector to cast their votes for the candidate who carries their state. Thirty-two states have such laws.

Without guidance from the court, the Colorado case "creates considerable uncertainty regarding the authority of states when appointing presidential electors and the validity of laws binding electors to follow the will of the electorate," said the brief from the 22 state attorneys general.

The justices are also considering a case centered on three 2016 electors who got punished for their faithlessness by the state of Washington and want the court to rule that such binding laws are unconstitutional.

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