While the chances of actually succeeding are very slim, there is a growing movement on twitter promoted by several Democratic electors to get their Republican colleagues to dump Trump when they meet on December 19th for the Electoral College vote. The goal? To get at least 37 electors to change their mind, and write in candidates like Mitt Romney or John Kasich.
“We believe there are more that might not understand that they have this right and they may select a Mitt Romney. They might select a John Kasich or another moderate Republican,” Bret Chiafalo, a Washington State elector, said in a recent interview. (watch interview below).
Electors who change their vote so it differs from their state’s popular tally are called “faithless electors.” In history, there have been only 157. However, objecting to a candidate on moral grounds is not completely unprecedented. In 1836, 23 electors from Virginia refused to vote for Vice Presidential Candidate Richard M. Johnson, after learning that he had allegedly lived with an African American woman. However, most legal experts agree the chances of this group succeeding this time around are low.
Michael Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado, and Chiafolo, the Washington State elector, are leading the charge to Dump Trump and have renamed the movement #moralelectors. It’s certainly caught on in social media.
— James Byrne (@BlackBelted) November 12, 2016
— LuLu (@lmadrid85) November 15, 2016
If no candidate receives 270 electors on December 19th, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation gets one vote. It seems weird but even though California has 53 districts and Vermont has only one, both states get just one vote. So the representatives would have to decide amongst themselves who to vote for. Even if this did happen, since there are more Red states, Trump would still likely win.
The other problem is that while there is no federal law prohibiting electors from changing their vote, 29 states and Washington D.C. have laws on the books that impose penalties for presidential electors who refuse to vote with the will of their state’s people. LawNewz columnist Elura Nanos also believes that electors could be shirking their own democratic responsibilities.
“Granted, there are probably plenty of electors for whom a thousand-dollar penalty would be a small price to pay to keep President Elect Trump from the inaugural stage — but lawlessness isn’t and shouldn’t ever be characterized as ‘nothing.’ From where I sit, rooting for members of the electoral college to shirk their legal responsibilities in frivolous hopes that it’ll somehow effectuate a different election result is irresponsible, dangerous, and un-American,” Nanos wrote in a recent opinion piece.