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December 15, 2008

Electoral college votes

Maryland's electors for president are voting this morning, making today, in a sense, the acutal election day. But in this state at least, there's no suspense whatsoever. In some states, "faithless electors" can go out on their own and vote for whomever they like today, but that's not the case in Maryland. Section 8-505 of the elections article of the Maryland code specifies that "the presidential electors shall cast their votes for the candidates for President and Vice President who received a plurality of the votes cast in the State of Maryland." So here, at least, they are theoretically bound to follow the results of the election here, which went handily for Barack Obama.

 What would happen if an elector broke that law? The code doesn't address that. Some states have specific penalties for faithless electors, and some nullify their votes. The last case of a faithless elector came in 2000 when one of Washington D.C.'s electors chose not to cast her vote for Al Gore (as she had pledged to do) as an act of protest for the lack of Congressional voting rights for the district.

Of course this could theoretically all change. Maryland was the first state to pass a law that could circumvent the electoral college altogether. It says that the state will award its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote (not the state's popular vote). But it only goes into effect if states with a sufficient number of electoral votes to constitute a national majority pass the same law. That way, the winner of the national popular vote would always win the electoral college. (Assuming there aren't any of those pesky faithless electors...)

Posted by Andy Green at 10:32 AM | | Comments (3)


Please explain how basing the state's electoral votes on which way the national wind is blowing somehow makes my vote count?

I already feel that it doesn't - being one of probably 5 registered Republicans in the Maryland.

It seems repugnant to the idea of voting that say, if Maryland's voters had voted for one candidate yet the electors voted for another because of the way other states voted.

Please let me know if we can screw up our state even more.

The idea is that your vote would then count more than it does now; as a Republican, you have basically no hope of flipping Maryland. But under this plan, your vote would count just as much as if you lived in Ohio or Florida or any of the other swing states that now decide things. I'm not saying it's the best idea in the world, just throwing it out there for discussion.

Technically in 2004 an elector voted for Edwards for President and Kerry for VP... probably by mistake more than purposefully. Does that count as a faithless elector? As much as a protest does...

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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