On Monday December 19 the Electoral College’s 538 electors gather in their respective state capitol to vote for president. What is usually just a formality has become a little more complicated this year. With Trump’s controversial stances, his loss of the popular vote, the abundance of fake news that circulated during the course of the year, and the possibility of Russian interference there is a campaign to block Donald Trump from becoming president, and because the way the electoral college works this may be possible but it’s a long shot.
The way presidential elections work in the United States is instead of voting for the president directly people vote for electors from their state and they vote for president. Whoever gets 270 votes wins and if nobody does than the House of representatives makes the decision. Most of the time electors vote for the candidate who won their state but they aren’t forced to. This has led to a creation of a group of electors who call themselves “Hamilton Electors” alluding to Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist No. 68 in which he explained the need for the electoral college. In it he wrote that the electoral college guarantees that “the office of the president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” This group of Hamilton Electors claims that it is their duty to make sure Trump isn’t president because of the reasons described in Federalist No. 68.
Since Trump received 306 votes it may seem difficult if not impossible to get 38 republican electors to vote for Hillary Clinton but that isn’t what the Hamilton Electors have proposed. Instead they have proposed voting for a more moderate republican to avoid extreme partisanship that would exist if Trump is president. Alternatives that have been mentioned include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Their plan states that if 37 electors vote for any of the three alternatives Trump will be one vote shy of becoming president and the republican controlled House of Representatives will vote for president. The Hamilton Electors are hoping that if the vote goes to the House of Representatives they would prefer a more moderate alternative as opposed to Trump.
The number of Republicans actually interested in voting for an alternative candidate is unknown. Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard University law professor working with the stop-Trump effort, told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon that there are likely “at least” 20 Republican electors who are “seriously considering” defections, but the Associated Press reported Thursday that it has interviewed more than 330 electors and that “Republican electors appear to be in no mood for an insurrection in the presidential campaign’s last voting ritual.”
Carole Joyce of Arizona expected her role as a GOP elector to be pretty simple: She would meet the others in Phoenix and carry out a vote for Trump, who won the most votes in her state and whom she personally supported.But then came the mail and the emails and the phone calls — first hundreds, then thousands of voters worrying that Trump’s impulsive nature would lead the country into another war. “Honestly, it had an impact,” said Joyce, a 72-year-old Republican state committee member. “I’ve seen enough funerals. I’m tired of hearing bagpipes. . . . But I signed a loyalty pledge. And that matters.” This is the internal conflict that many republican electors are having but As Joyce mentioned many electors have signed loyalty pledges and many electors are reluctant to break them.
This plan seems like it will never work and it probably won’t, but this controversy is unprecedented, and it is setting the tone for the next four years which will probably be even more divisive and polarizing than Obama’s presidency. America needs to heal after this election but the opposition to Trump before he even set foot in the White House is doing the complete opposite.