Everything you ever wanted to know about all of the crazy U.S. Election laws by state, conveniently thrown into one post, because damn, this stuff is not conveniently accessible.
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidential Election with 59,611,678 popular votes against Hillary Clinton's 59,814,018 votes popular votes. Confused? It's because every state has a number of electoral votes, based on the number of representatives and senators each state has in Congress. In order to be eligible to win the presidential race, you must have a minimum of 270 electoral college votes. Clinton had 228, while Trump had 279, thus, making him the winner.
Or is he?
Technically speaking, neither Clinton or Trump have any electoral college votes. Why? Because the electors haven't voted yet... They won't vote until December 19, their votes aren't counted until January 6 (when a Contingent Election could take place immediately after), and the newly elected president isn't sworn in until January 20.
So why are we presumptuous? It's expected that the electors will vote for their state's majority, and so we actually give the presidential candidates electoral vote pledges. If an elector does not adhere to their pledge, they're called a faithless elector, but technically only in 29 states and 1 district. These 29 states (and the District of Columbia) have laws binding electors to vote for their pledge. And even then, out of those 30, only 7 have explicit punishments for breaking the state law (some of which are just fines and only 4 of those actually take measures to replace your invalid vote), but there's no federal law against it.
What's even more interesting is that if the president of the Senate doesn't receive the elector's vote by December 28, there's no punishment for it. So even with the laws in place over this, simply not voting cannot be penalized. Honestly, the lack of laws surrounding the electoral college is eye-opening and fascinating. So yeah, some of you are complaining about how the electoral college system is stupid + flawed because big states get so many votes blah blah blah, so I took it upon myself to educate you on the matter, because small states have the capability of throwing this election entirely. Those votes have not been cast yet and if anything, there's potential to use the flawed system in order to elect a different president. Boom.
"So that means Clinton has to gain 38 electoral votes from Republican states?"
Nope. And doing so would literally be impossible, in my opinion. On the contrary, Trump would simply need to lose 37 electoral votes. Republican electors can choose to not vote for either candidate/submit a blank ballot, and if there were 37 of those, neither candidate would have 270 votes and neither could be president. Then it's up to the House of Representatives to vote on a candidate (click here for the names and political parties of every representative by state).
"But Clinton already gave her concession speech!"
Doesn't matter according to our government (click here); she can still be president afterward. If you refuse to give a concession speech, you're basically just asking for a re-count of the popular vote--you're not giving up the position to your opponent. Aren't American politics fun?
"But I don't want Hillary to be president either..."
That's not necessarily the outcome either. Albeit, the House of Representatives decides (which is literally dependent on who TF is even able to show up for the last minute Contingent Election to begin with...), but there's room for a third party candidate as well. If another presidential candidate is written in by an elector, and is in third place with electoral college votes (regardless if they were even on the presidential ballot or not), they get thrown into the House of Representatives vote. And no, that doesn't mean just Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, it literally means anyone.
"The likelihood of this even happening is so slim..."
Is it though? Donald Trump was just informally elected president and no one thought that was going to happen. Hell, the Cubs won the World Series after 108 years. 2016 has been weird, you guys. There has already been talk of electors planning on faithless electing. In addition, it's been done before: 179 faithless elector votes on 22 different occasions. While Contingent Elections have only happened three times in the past, they've happened before. It's extremely rare and would more-than-likely be the result of an absolutely crazy election where political parties were completely divided amongst themselves. Hm, sound familiar?
If you're still not convinced, I'd like to give you my astrological opinion, since everyone has also been obsessed with Mercury Retrograde in 2016. The day Electoral College members meet to discuss + vote (December 19) is the day Mercury in Capricorn goes retrograde at 6 AM. It then enters Sagittarius on January 4, remains retrograde until early January 8, and doesn't leave the Rx Zone until January 27. A recipe for utter chaos.
"So who are the electors?"
Your party nominates them every year by state, basically on the condition that they're not a Senator or Representative. So when you vote for a "Presidential Candidate," you're actually voting for a group of electors. The names of those electors are then revealed sometime after the November 8th election date, after your votes have been cast. You can check this government website for the list of electors in every state.
"No one faithful to our history can deny that the plan originally contemplated what is implicit in its text--that electors would be free agents, to exercise an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the men best qualified for the Nation's highest offices."
-Robert H. Jackson
Alabama 9 Alaska 3 Arizona 11 Arkansas 6 Florida 29 Georgia 16 Idaho 4 Indiana 11 Iowa 6 Kansas 6 Kentucky 8 Louisiana 8 Michigan 16 Mississippi 6 Missouri 10 Montana 3 Nebraska 5
*North Carolina 15 North Dakota 3 Ohio 18 *Oklahoma 7 Pennsylvania 20 South Carolina 9
South Dakota 3 Tennessee 11 Texas 38 Utah 6 West Virginia 5 Wisconsin 10 Wyoming 3
California 55 Colorado 9 Connecticut 7 Delaware 3 D.C. 3 Hawaii 4 Illinois 20 Maine 4 Maryland 10
Massachusetts 11 Minnesota 10 Nevada 6 New Hampshire 4 New Jersey 14 *New Mexico 5
New York 29 Oregon 7 Rhode Island 4 Vermont 3 Virginia 13 *Washington 12
There are 29 states (plus D.C.!) that "technically" have state laws enforcing electors to vote as pledged that I have underlined--the other 31 states that do not have any restrictions whatsoever. 4 of these underlined states will count your vote as invalid and replace the elector (Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and South Carolina), with North Carolina additionally pressing a $500 fine, which I have marked in black because there's no way around those. It's considered a misdemeanor in Oklahoma (with a $1000 fine), a felony in New Mexico, and there's a $1000 fine in Washington. I put an asterisk next to these underlined states, as it's a higher risk for a punishment.
The rest of the underlined red + blue states with laws, however, do not specifically state a punishment. In fact, many electors in the past have voted against these state's popular vote and never got in trouble because literally no one's ever been to court over this, because literally NO ONE CARES. I actually bored myself to tears researching all of this because there is no one-stop-shop for all of this information, since yanno, it's all by individual state, so you're welcome.
There are a lot of potential outcomes, I suppose, and I, personally, am not an elector and cannot cast an electoral vote. But yay, that we're all more informed on: the number of electoral votes per state, all of the state laws on the process in one freaking place, and the party majority of every state; in addition to: links to the names of every person in the House of Representatives, as well as the Electoral College Board by state.
Do what you want with that information. If you wish to see change in America, I encourage peaceful protesting in the meantime. You have to let your voice be heard by the electors in order for any of this to work. You also have to know your audience, so I will be updating this post shortly once the elector names are released. And to all Trump supporters: if you truly believe that your *Republican* state's electors are in line with pledging his presidency, then you have nothing to worry about. If they don't adhere to their pledge, then take it up with the state (maybe your laws are too out-of-date), but regardless of the outcome, the electors are not entirely in control and shouldn't be the ones to be angry at if they choose not to vote accordingly--take it up with the House of Representatives, who's mostly Republican anyways. If Trump does end up losing the election, you'll literally only have the Republican Party to blame (or thank, depending on how you see it). Regardless, this just goes to show you that the system is flawed, no matter what angle you look at it from. Everyone please be kind and stay safe in the meantime. Spread love, not hate. #Murica #FaithlessElectors