Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
I’ve been seeing some particularly stupid articles arguing electors have the duty to vote their conscience, not their pledge.
Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution provides that each state shall appoint electors. How and who gets appointed elector is up to the legislatures of the states. The electors meet in their respective states and cast their votes for President which are transmitted to the Senate to be counted. This is a hold-over from the days when travel by foot or horse made national elections a logistical nightmare, but it’s still the law.
Minnesota Statutes 208.03 provides that presidential electors shall be nominated by the major political parties at their convention and Minn. Stat. 208.04 says a vote for a presidential candidate cast in the general election is treated as a vote for the electors of that party. When a Minnesota voter casts a ballot for Hillary, she’s actually voting for the electors appointed by the DFL Party.
In 2015, Minnesota adopted the Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act to bring our law into closer conformity with the majority of states. Under Minn. Stat. 208.43, electors sign a pledge:
“If selected for the position of elector, I agree to serve and to mark my ballots for president and vice president for the nominees for those offices of the party that nominated me.”
There is no penalty for refusing to honor the pledge. There should be.
Minnesotans voted Hillary because, after listening to their speeches, scrutinizing their records and analyzing their promises, they thought Hillary would make a better president. The law that equates a vote for Hillary as a vote for Pledged Electors does not authorize the electors to substitute their judgment for mine and instead vote for Bernie. The electors are merely the messenger transmitting my decision to Washington. We decide on the message.
It must be that way. I have no way to evaluate Muhammad Abdurrahman’s judgment and beliefs. I never heard of him until he broke his pledge. It would be insane for me to hand him carte blanche to vote for anybody he liked – that would defeat the whole purpose of having a general election. Although it might make the campaigns shorter. Under that system, you’d never get to see the candidates, never get to hear them. You’d just vote “DFL” or “GOP” and the apparatchiks appointed by the big-shots in the smoke-filled rooms would pick whoever The Bosses decide to install as President – Hillary, then Jeb, then Chelsea, then one of George W’s girls . . . .