There has been a lot of discussion lately about faithless electors and whether they are bound in certain cases or what the penalty is. There's a petition circulating which offers to pay the fine of a faithless elector if they will flip and vote for Clinton.

If you are paying on the condition they vote a certain way, isn't that bribery or at least corruption in some form? You may not be paying them directly or more than needed to cover the fine (perhaps plus legal fees, etc), but you are enticing them to violate a law on the basis that they won't suffer harm for it. Does offering to pay these kinds of fines violate any state or federal bribery laws?

  • 4
    Interesting that there are so many questions , just out of curiosity I am sure, about how to break the law and get away with it.
    – Michael J.
    Nov 11, 2016 at 13:33
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    hmm.. interesting. Well where there isn't a law against faithless electors, there isn't a fine to pay for breaking the law. Outright giving them money, etc would most likely be seen as a bribe in general (and almost assuredly illegal otherwise)
    – eques
    Nov 11, 2016 at 13:44
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    Would attempts to usurp the democratic process be treason? Nov 11, 2016 at 16:16
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    @hownowbrowncow Nope: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."
    – eques
    Nov 11, 2016 at 16:19
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    @blip bribery in many if not most jurisdictions has some legal definition, especially in connection to bribing elected officials to bring about certain outcomes. The Electors certainly count as elected officials (for most purposes), but would it be a bribe if the good/service offered is against a legal penalty?
    – eques
    Nov 11, 2016 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


According to US Legal, it is bribery. See the bold text below:

Election bribery is a criminal offense. The following is an example of a state statute describing election bribery:

Any person, who offers, gives, lends or promises to give or lend, or attempts to procure anything of value or any office or employment or any privilege or immunity to, or for, any elector, or to or for any other person, in order to induce any elector to:

Refrain from going to the polls.

Vote or refrain from voting.

Vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular person.

Vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular referendum; or on account of any elector having done any of the above.

Pursuant to 42 USCS § 1973i, whoever knowingly or willfully pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting will be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. However, this is applicable only to general, special, or primary elections held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Also note that Electors are prohibited from meeting in one central location. To minimize the chances of corruption, bribery and backroom deals, electors are prohibited from gathering in one central location to cast their ballots. Thus, electors meet in individual state capitals to vote.

Most certainly if bribery were found to cause a change in the election of whom was projected President, the Congress would not certify that result and choose the correct candidate.

  • "Also note that Electors are prohibited from meeting in one central location." In the current case, it would either take a few from many states or a couple larger states to flip. Having them be individual groups would slow down that process.
    – eques
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:09
  • re: last paragraph, how would congress determine the 'correct' candidate?
    – user1530
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:43
  • @blip presumably the votes would be thrown out by court order (it would be an offense to the system to allow a vote tainted by bribery to stand). Someone then could order new electors be selected (or something like that), but this is mostly untested
    – eques
    Nov 11, 2016 at 19:45
  • -1. This did not answer the question. If you offer to pay the fine after the fact you did not induce the elector to do any of the listed items because they had already done the action. Nov 16, 2016 at 21:52
  • @DavidGrinberg the petition is circulating now. It's before the electoral college vote. ipso facto, it's bribery. Also he stipulates paying on the condition of the vote.
    – user9790
    Nov 16, 2016 at 22:00

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