Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that states can penalize faithless electors, the members of the Electoral College who do not support the winner of their state's popular vote in a presidential election.

Why it matters: The 2016 presidential election saw 10 electors vote for someone other than their state's chosen candidate — highlighting how faithless electors could have the potential to swing an election.

  • 32 states and Washington, D.C. require their electors to cast their Electoral College votes for the winner of their respective statewide popular vote.
  • Before 2016, a modern presidential election had never seen more than one faithless elector — prompting states to move ahead with their legal challenge.

What they're saying: "A State follows in the same tradition if, like Washington, it chooses to sanction an elector for breaching his promise. Then too, the State instructs its electors that they have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens. That direction accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule," Justice Elena Kagan wrote on the court's ruling.

The big picture: During oral arguments before the court last month, Colorado's attorney general argued that a loss by the states could "occasion a constitutional crisis," per CNN.

  • The justices also expressed worries that ruling against the states could lead to wide-scale bribing of members of the Electoral College — with little to no recourse.
  • Representatives for the electors had argued that the Constitution "requires that presidential electors be free to cast votes without interference or sanction."

The bottom line: With the Electoral College already taking heat from both parties, the ruling doesn't upend the status quo, granting voters' peace of mind to know that electors will follow through with their wishes.

Read the ruling.

Go deeper

Pennsylvania GOP asks Supreme Court to halt mail-in ballot extension

Applications for mail-in ballots in Reading, Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Republicans in Pennsylvania on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a major state court ruling that extended the deadlines for mail-in ballots to several days after the election, The Morning Call reports.

Why it matters: It's the first election-related test for the Supreme Court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. What the court decides could signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 33,867,247 — Total deaths: 1,012,341 — Total recoveries: 23,537,059Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 7,229,319 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  5. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  6. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook removes Trump ads tying refugees to COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday that it was removing a series of ads from President Trump's campaign that linked American acceptance of refugees with increased coronavirus risk, a connection Facebook says is without merit.

Why it matters: The ads were pulled after they received thousands of impressions and are a sign that the Trump campaign continues to test the limits of social media rules on false information.

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