State Laws on Presidential Electors

November 2016

SUMMARY: STATE LAWS REGARDING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS

This document provides a summary of the laws in each state relevant to the certification of presidential electors and the meeting of those electors to cast votes for the President and Vice President. In most states, the selection/nomination of presidential electors takes place at meetings or conventions of the political parties held in each state during a Presidential election year. Generally, the process and procedures for selecting presidential electors is based on the particular bylaws, rules, regulations, etc. of the various political parties in each state. This document references the state laws directing the political parties to certify the names of the presidential electors to the Secretary of State or other chief election officials following their selection. Note that while not covered in this document, independent presidential candidates, and presidential candidates representing certain political organizations, who gain ballot access by petition, as well as presidential write-in candidates who file a declaration or statement of write-in candidacy (where applicable) also designate presidential electors. State laws generally require that these candidates include the names of the electors when they file the petition, declaration, etc. with the appropriate state election official. 

The United States Constitution and federal statutes provide the basic requirements for voting by the presidential electors (see links below for additional information on these laws). State laws reflect these requirements and generally vary with regard to whether/how additional procedures are covered. For example, while most states address the issue of a vacancy among electors, the process for filling a vacancy may vary among states. Also, while 29 states and Washington DC require that presidential electors cast their vote for the presidential candidate for the party they were selected to represent, the specific requirements and procedures vary. For example, some laws simply state that electors must vote for the candidate of the party they represent, while others require electors sign an oath or a pledge. Also, some states specify what happens if an elector violates the requirement, for example in some states this is treated as a vacancy which is filled accordingly. A few states also provide criminal penalties if an elector violates the requirement. 

Individuals with questions about political party procedures for selecting or nominating presidential electors, or state laws concerning the meeting of the presidential electors and casting of votes, should contact the relevant state political parties, or state election officials, as appropriate. 

Resources: 

National Conference of State Legislatures: (NCSL) 

The Electoral College 

National Archives and Records Administration: (NARA) 

About the Electors 

What is the Electoral College 

Federal Electoral College Provisions 

Electoral College FAQs