When Will The Electoral College Meet To Vote In 2016? Trump Set To Win 'Real' Election After Popular Vote Drubbing

Jonathan Vankin

As a great man once said, "it ain't over 'til it's over," and the 2016 Presidential election will not be over until the Electoral College meets to vote — a vote that under the United States Constitution will be the only real, official election for president, and in this case, an election that will put Donald Trump in the White House.

Trump is set to win the Electoral College vote with at least 290 ballots. A winner between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton had not yet been declared in the state of Michigan as of Wednesday morning, November 23, because the margin separation the two candidates remained at a mere 9,528 votes, with Trump holding that slight lead. A Michigan win would give Trump 306 electoral votes.

But even if Clinton were to pull out a victory in Michigan, the state's 16 electoral votes would give her just 248 — still 22 short of the 270 require for an Electoral College majority — and the presidency.

Votes were still coming in from other states as well, including New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland — though the bulk of uncounted ballots remain in California, where Clinton continues to hold a dominant lead with nearly 62 percent of the vote.

But as of Wednesday, Clinton had built a lead of 1.5 percentage points in the national popular vote. That's the largest lead for a losing candidate since 1876, and gives her a larger margin of victory than five presidents who actually won the Electoral College vote.

So when does the Electoral College meet to cast the final ballots that appear certain to overturn the popular vote results and put Donald Trump in the White House? The Constitution doesn't say anything about when the electors vote, only that they must "meet in their respective states." In other words, there is no single meeting of the Electoral College — instead, there are 50 separate meetings.

But lawmakers later felt that it was a good idea to set a specific date. In the United States Code, Title Three, Section Seven, that date is set as "the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December."

In 2016, that day falls on December 19.

How do we know that the 538 electors meeting in their 50 individual states on December 19, 2016, will actually vote to elect Trump president? The answer is — we don't until it happens. On the other hand, not since 1876 has the Electoral College not only voted against the popular vote — but against itself.

In that election, Ohio Republican Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York, with Tilden coming out on top, or so it appeared, in the Electoral College as well. But 20 electoral votes across four states were disputed on various legal grounds, and after a lengthy court battle that dragged into 1877, Hayes was awarded those 20 votes, ultimately winning the Electoral College vote, 185 to 184.

In 2016, there have been numerous calls for electoral voters — who are generally required by law or tradition to vote by the popular vote in their own specific states — to go their own way and put Clinton in the White House.

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In fact, a former legal counsel in the George W. Bush administration, Richard Painter, said on CNN Wednesday that due to the business conflicts-of-interest to which Trump himself admitted in a New York Times interview, electors are constitutionally obligated to keep him out of the White House. Watch Painter make his argument in the video below.

The chances that the Electoral College will reverse itself in 2016, however, appear slim — though at least two Democratic electors have stated their plan to persuade their Republican counterparts to vote not for Clinton, but for a "compromise" Republican, such as 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press]

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