• The Supreme Court will examine whether electors can vote their conscience rather than following the will of voters in their state
  • Lower courts came to opposite conclusions on the issue
  • 32 states require electors to cast votes in like with popular sentiment

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether members of the Electoral College can vote for a candidate other than the one picked by voters in their states.

The case involves electors in Washington state and Colorado who refused to back the 2016 candidate who won their states. Their defections made no difference in the outcome of the election, which saw Donald Trump amassing 306 electoral votes to 227 for Hillary Clinton.

The cases before the court challenge laws that mandate electors carry out the will of voters, barring so-called faithless electors. The Washington case was brought by three Democratic electors who voted for Colin Powell. The Colorado elector was removed and replaced for refusing to cast a vote for Clinton.

No date was set for arguments.

Nationally, there were 10 faithless electors, depriving Clinton of five votes and Trump of two. The votes of the other three were invalidated by their states.

It would have taken the defections of 37 Republican electors to throw the election into the House of Representatives.

Lower courts came to opposite decisions. The Washington law imposes a fine on faithless electors while the Colorado law provides for the elector to be replaced.

The nonprofit group FairVote reports 32 states and the District of Columbia require electors to support the candidate chosen by voters, with four of them providing penalties for faithless electors and the other 11 providing for the replacement of the elector or the cancellation of the elector’s vote.

The 2016 election sparked consideration of whether the Electoral College should be scrapped since Clinton won the popular vote, but because of the way electoral votes are apportioned by state, lost the Electoral College. It was the second time since 2000 the Electoral College put a candidate who had not won the popular vote into the White House. It happened only two other times in U.S. history, in 1876 and 1888.