What effect, if any, does the recent SCOTUS decision on faithless electors have on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact?

This compact requires the electors from the states signed into the compact to vote for the person which wins the national popular vote, even if that person did not win the majority of the votes in that state. Does this ruling affect this at all?

1 Answer 1


This decision means that the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact(NPVIC) could be more strictly enforced in states that have laws against faithless electors.

The two cases related to this decision, Chiafalo v. Washington and Colorado Department of State v. Baca, essentially centered around whether state laws enforcing an elector's pledged vote were constitutional. SCOTUS unanimously decided they were, meaning that states can implement laws designed to stop faithless electors by requiring an elector to vote for who they pledge to vote.

However, the wording of NPVIC is such that if 270 electoral votes worth of states join, then all states in the compact will choose the slate of pledged electors which correspond to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the state's popular vote.

The text of the bill states are passing can be found here, and the relevant part of the bill:

Article III—Manner of Appointing Presidential Electors in Member States

Prior to the time set by law for the meeting and voting by the presidential electors, the chief election official of each member state shall determine the number of votes for each presidential slate in each State of the United States and in the District of Columbia in which votes have been cast in a statewide popular election and shall add such votes together to produce a “national popular vote total” for each presidential slate.

The chief election official of each member state shall designate the presidential slate with the largest national popular vote total as the “national popular vote winner.”

The presidential elector certifying official of each member state shall certify the appointment in that official’s own state of the elector slate nominated in that state in association with the national popular vote winner.

In short, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact means states agree to use the national vote to chose a group of pledged electors rather than the state vote, and this decision allows states to pass laws that require those electors to keep their pledge.

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    @supercat: Faithless electors are very rare: only 165 such electors have broken their pledge (only 94 if you don't count elections where a candidate died), and 2016 was the first election in more than a century with multiple faithless electors. Electors are typically members of the political parties who nominate them, and (depending on the state) are either voted for in primaries or nominated directly at party conventions, so even in states with no laws against faithless electors it's not likely for them to break from their party.
    – Giter
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:14
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    @supercat That could be a separate question, but generally I think the validation step by Congress that the result is valid and fair should take care of voting-at-gunpoint. It might be a formality in practice, it is there to stop abuses like you describe.
    – Sjoerd
    Jul 7, 2020 at 16:41
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    @supercat The Electoral College meets separately in their individual states; you would have to attack each one. Since there's a delay between the election and the electors casting their votes, it would be easy enough to schedule a new meeting if such a terrorist attack occurred. || The SCOTUS ruling just allowed states to restrict whom their electors could vote for. It didn't require them to, so I don't see how your Q applies. Jul 7, 2020 at 16:42
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    If the question is whether an elector would get punished for voting for someone else with a gun to their head, the state would still have to draw up charges if state law required electors to vote for someone in particular. All you would have to do is not prosecute, because that would be ridiculous. Jul 7, 2020 at 16:43
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    @JustMe If an elector is faithless, they can be punished and replaced after casting their vote but before the Secretary of State for the state in question certifies the results. Much like regular voting, the votes aren't counted immediately without recourse.
    – Michael W.
    Jul 7, 2020 at 21:45

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