As the whole country and indeed the world now knows, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election despite the fact that Hillary Clinton won significantly more votes. In fact, with about 5 million votes left to be counted, Clinton's lead in the popular vote — that is, the raw vote total — had passed 1.3 million votes, a 1.1 percentage point lead.
But Trump won enough states to win the vote in the all-important Electoral College, the group of 538 voters, called "electors," who cast their ballots on December 19 to actually determine the winner of the election and the 45th president of the United States. No provision of the United States Constitution or federal law prevents the electors from voting for any candidate they choose, and a petition circulating online has accumulated nearly 4.5 million signatures calling on the electors to vote for Clinton instead of Trump.
Should they do it? We want to find out what Inquisitr readers think about this question. Vote in the poll below by clicking on your preferred answer, and to see the vote totals.
Despite losing the popular vote, Trump won the Electoral College contest with 306 votes to 232 for Clinton.
But the results are not official and will not be final until December 19, when the electors from each state meet at their respective state houses to cast their ballots. While 35 states have laws requiring electors to vote for the candidate who won the majority of votes in that state, penalties for going rogue are light, typically a $1,000 fine and nothing more.
On the other hand, 15 states have no law or regulation at all to prevent electors from voting any way they want — only tradition.
With Clinton falling 38 electoral votes short of the majority 270 electoral votes required to win the presidential election, only that number of the 306 electors committed to vote for Trump would need to switch their votes to Clinton, and she would become the president after all. Of course, that assumes all of Clinton's 232 electors actually vote for her.
What are the chances that electors could switch their votes from Trump to Clinton, changing the result of the presidential election? While the Electoral College has never changed its collective mind before, individual electors have defied the voters in their states somewhat frequently.
Known as "faithless electors," there have been 157 different Electoral College voters in American history who have gone their own way, voting for the candidate of their choice rather than the one who won their specific state vote.
Of those, 23 came in 1836, when a bloc of electors from the state of Virginia switched their votes together — not for president but for vice-president. Democrat Martin Van Buren won the presidency, but the Virginia electors refused to vote for his running mate, Richard Mentor Johnson.
In another 71 cases, electors changed their votes because their candidate died before the Electoral College met to vote. And in three instances, electors simply abstained from casting their ballots.
The most recent instance of a "faithless" elector came in 2004, when one Minnesota elector refused to vote for then-Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who won Minnesota, casting his or her presidential ballot for John Edwards — Kerry's own running mate.
Still want to know more about the Electoral College, why it was founded, and how it works? Check out the video below from The Guardian newspaper.
Alexander Hamilton, one of America's founding fathers, was a strong advocate of the Electoral College, believing that the institution must act as a safeguard against the unreliable public who may be prone to elect unqualified candidates.
Should Hamilton's belief apply in 2016, to the election of Donald Trump as president? Should the winner of the most votes, Hillary Clinton, be voted into the presidency by the Electoral College? Cast your vote in the poll above on this page to make your opinion known.
[Featured Image By Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images]