Sorry, It’s Pointless to Try and Change the Electoral College Vote

Since Donald Trump was elected to become the next president on Tuesday, many are desperately — and we mean desperately — searching for last-minute pathways to keep him from getting to the Oval Office.

One way that has been spreading like wildfire on social media is trying to persuade members of the electoral college to vote against Trump in swing states on Dec. 19 when the college members officially vote.

Is it true that the electoral college could technically vote against the majority in their respective states?

Yes, it is true. While there is no federal law forcing those in the college to vote according to the majority, there are several state that have laws requiring their college voters to to represent the majority.

At least 25 states have laws or pledges that make their electors cast their votes for a specific candidate. Virginia is the only state that has a statue in place that says their electors “shall be expected” to vote for their pledged nominee. 

The voters that decide to vote against popularity and without a pledge are called faithless electors. The last time a faithless elector decided to vote against the popular in the state was in 2004, according to The New York Post. An anonymous voter in Minnesota decided to vote for John Edwards — a.k.a. Democratic nominee John Kerry’s running mate. That was either an honest mistake or the most pointless misdirection ever.

But even if the college voters in certain states are not bound by law to vote for the majority, many states bind their voters to political parties. These are called pledges. The Constitution does not clarify whether or not a failure to vote according to these pledges would theoretically result in federal punishment of the elector, although the states are allowed to interpret as they will.

Aside from the laws and the pledges that are in place, the amount of votes that would have to change is comparatively astronomical. Although Hillary won the popular vote, she did not win the preliminary electoral college votes. Trump won 279 and Hill only received 228.

That means that at least 42 voters in the college would have to vote against the majority in their states in December. That’s how many Hillary would have to receive to even get to the needed 270. That doesn’t count how many Trump will retain.

The last time a candidate won the popular vote but lost the electoral college was in 2000 when Bush won the college, but Gore won the popular. Still, the electoral college voted against the majority of the nation.

And if you still think any of this is possible, just remember that Congress still has to approve the votes of the electoral college. They will meet on Jan. 6 after the votes from the college are finalized, and now that Republicans have majority in both House and Senate, they will likely rule against any faithless electors.

Considering no change of the electoral college system came about after Bush’s election, I don’t see any reason to expect it to happen now.

If you do feel impassioned about changing the electoral system as is, you can sign this petition. But counting on electors to vote against how their state chose is pretty pointless.


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