Electoral College Won’t Elect Hillary Clinton Even If She Wins Popular Vote, Experts Say
It’s been more than a week since the U.S. presidential elections were decided in favor of Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee bucked the odds to become president-elect. Still, there have been a lot of people hoping that the Electoral College would name Hillary Clinton as the 45th President of the United States. And while these people hope Trump won’t serve as President after all and that the Electoral College will decide in favor of Democratic nominee Clinton, the chances of that happening are essentially nonexistent, according to a report from USA TODAY.
Writing for USA TODAY courtesy of FactCheck.org, Robert Farley took an in-depth look at the theoretical scenario of the Electoral College naming Clinton as President. He referred to a 2008 article from FactCheck.org’s Joe Miller, which provided a concise history of the Electoral College, while also stressing that it is possible for candidates to win in any given state by varying margins. As such, candidates who lose the popular vote can still win the Electoral College vote and become President.
This has happened three times prior, with the most recent example being George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore in the 2000 elections. Back then, Gore beat Bush by about 540,000 votes, yet lost to Bush, 271-266, in the electoral vote. And in an even more peculiar example, John Quincy Adams became the sixth President of the United States in 1824 despite losing the popular and electoral vote to Andrew Jackson.
That hasn’t stopped people from launching petitions, and thousands, even millions more signing those petitions in hopes that the Electoral College would vote for Hillary Clinton when it meets on December 19. A Change.org petition has since attracted more than 4.3 million signatures, pushing for Electors to vote Clinton in next month’s meeting, while calling president-elect Donald Trump a bully and a liar with an “admitted” history of sexual assault and zero experience in public office.
“On December 19, the Electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots,” the petition reads.
“If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, they can vote for Hillary Clinton if they choose. Even in states where that is not allowed, their vote would still be counted, they would simply pay a small fine – which we can be sure Clinton supporters will be glad to pay!”
Though many are clearly hopeful that the above petition will turn out favorable, Farley said that the Electoral College is “mostly a formality” these days. He added that per a 1952 Supreme Court ruling, state officials could make Electors pledge their support to a party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees, and while “faithless Electors” may have to pay $500 to $1,000 for going against this pledge, they may also be replaced by someone else.
Farley pointed out that the Supreme Court’s language is ambiguous as to whether these sanctions can be formally upheld. There are over 20 states that currently do not have any laws or pledges that force Electors to vote according to how their state voted.
“There is a lot of uncertainty because it is such a scarce occurrence,” said FairVote staff attorney Chris Hughes, who was one of the polling experts quoted in the USA TODAY report.
#HillaryClinton has won more popular votes than any other white man in US history. Think about that. #USPolitics https://t.co/zCSio9p1pe
— Shona Murray (@ShonaMurray_) November 15, 2016
Despite the ambiguous language mentioned above, one of the most telling stats noted on the USA TODAY/FactCheck.org report was FairVote’s count of 157 faithless Electors in U.S. history. Out of those 157, there were 71 votes changed due to the original candidate dying before the Electoral College could turn in its votes. There were 82 votes changed based on an Elector’s personal choice, but these changes still didn’t affect any election’s results.
At the end of the day, it would all boil down to one thing, according to Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe. The Electoral College giving Hillary Clinton the win is extremely doubtful, as President Barack Obama and Clinton herself are likely to oppose it. Both, after all, have stressed acceptance as an important part of the transition from one president to another.
“I frankly cannot imagine either of them supporting the proposed move to have the Electoral College elect the former Secretary of State on December 19. And, without their support, the move (to petition the Electoral College to elect Hillary Clinton) seems doomed to fail.”
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]