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Minnesota Presidential Electors, 2020
Let's start with the payload: here are Minnesota’s major-party electors. I’ve looked up and linked to public information about each elector if I could find any. In any event, when you’re deciding whom to cast your vote for on election night, I encourage you to consider not just your party’s nominee, but your party’s electors. After all, the electors are the ones you’re actually voting for!
Terrence F. Flower
John R. Rheinberger
Anton J. Lazzaro
Peter James Balesa
Julie Ann Schmidt
Rebekah Mae Lonnes
Muhammad Abdurrahman (despite being a faithless elector in '16!)
For the delegates and alternates from the Green Party, Birthday Party (Kanye West), Independence Party (Brock Pierce), Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Workers, and the Judean People's Front, as well as the documentation for DFL/GOP delegates, see these documents which the Minnesota Secretary of State's office very kindly scanned and emailed to me today in the midst of a pandemic. (Big thank you to Stella Hegg at the MN SoS office!):
American Solidarity Party (registered write-in)
Under Minnesota law, parties are only required to register one elector prior to the election, and the write-in Brian Carroll campaign has done just that this year. Since the American Solidarity Party only wins if a plurality of Minnesotans write in "Brian Carroll" on their presidential ticket, it seems unlikely that we will get to learn more about this particular quirk of Minnesota law.
When you vote for a presidential candidate on Election Day, you don't actually cast a vote for that candidate. You are actually voting for a slate of presidential electors who have been bound to that candidate. Whichever slate gets the most votes, wins the state.*
The winning slate of presidential electors meets in the state capitol in the third week of December. There, they cast the actual votes for president (and vice-president). They mail their votes to the Vice-President (currently Mike Pence), who brings them to Congress in the first week of January for the official electoral count. (For more on this count, and how it can go wrong, see my legal horror story, "And The War Came".) Whichever candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes (270 out of 538) is elected President. If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the Twelfth Amendment “throws” the election to the House of Representatives, which is allowed to pick any of the top three electoral college vote-getters to be President.
Although the Founding generation prepared for electoral college deadlocks to be routine, with the House picking the president from the “shortlist” determined by the electoral college, the first and last time this actually happened was in the 1824 presidential election, where John Quincy Adams beat Andrew Jackson. (The deeply disputed 1876 presidential election was ultimately decided by Congress, but without recourse to the Twelfth Amendment.)
On the whole, the electoral college was a good idea, but has failed to achieve its goals. (Among other things, it was specifically designed to prevent people like Donald Trump from becoming President.) On the other hand, the electoral college has prevented even worse evils from eroding our republic. So mark me down as someone who thinks the electoral college should be reformed or replaced -- but that a national popular vote is worst possible replacement, and would actually be worse than what we have.
At any rate, given their importance in our electoral system, it seems to me a bit odd that we don’t pay any attention to the electors. They are, after all, the ones you’re actually voting for, not the presidential candidates. You’re depending on their judgment, their wisdom, and their loyalty to their party… not to mention their nation and the Constitution. So I think we should at least know their names!
If a presumptive president-elect dies between Election Day and the day the electoral college votes, it’s ultimately up to the electoral college to decide who wins instead. In many states, electors even have the legal power to violate their electoral pledge and cast a vote for a different presidential candidate -- and that vote is binding! (This is not true in Minnesota, which legally voids the votes of so-called "faithless electors." This is a stupid law that was nevertheless correctly upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional.)
Minnesota does not publish the names of electors anywhere. Neither do either of the major parties, as far as I could find. I wrote to the Minnesota Secretary of State yesterday and asked for the list of presidential electors for each party. They reported that they have the elector lists, but, due to the pandemic, they're mostly not in the office, don't have them scanned, and can't get to them to me in a timely manner. Fortunately, some journalists dug up the list and published it in a spreadsheet buried on journalistsresource.org. Go journalists!
UPDATE: Barely an hour after I posted this article, the inestimable Stella Hegg at the Secretary of State's office -- who also responded to my request in 2016 -- scanned up and emailed over not just the Democrat and Republican slates, but the Green, Socialism & Liberation, Socialist, Birthday Party, and Brock Pierce electoral slates. I'll be posting that information gradually over the course of tonight. Thank you, Ms. Hegg! Talk to you in 2024!
UPDATE II: A couple hours later, a member of the American Solidarity Party got back to me about the name of their elector. I've added him as well. To my knowledge, the American Solidarity Party is the only registered write-in presidential campaign in Minnesota this year, so, with all the printed candidates already covered, I think that's everyone!
*(Except in Maine and Nebraska, but that's another blog post.)