Is there any way that President-elect Donald Trump will not make it into the White House come January?
On December 19, the Electoral College will make its final choice for the next president of the United States. Although it is widely believed that the result of the presidential election makes it incumbent on the representatives of the respective states to vote for the winning candidate, the truth is not necessarily that. The Constitution of the United States does not make it mandatory for an elector to vote for the president/vice-president he/she had pledged if the elector has lost faith in the candidate. Such an elector, called a “faithless elector,” could vote for another candidate, or refrain from voting altogether.
There have been instances in the past where electors have chosen not to vote for their party’s designated candidate or a pledged candidate. But while such “faithless electors” have often done so to register their protest against a particular candidate or to draw attention to an issue in need of dissection, if the electors were indeed to change their vote to discard Donald Trump on December 19, it would be for entirely different reasons. The fact remains, however, that it is technically possible for electors to change their votes if they have a lack of faith in a candidate.
Now while a number of electors all refraining to vote for Donald Trump or changing their votes for another candidate, such as Hillary Clinton, might be a lofty idea, it is not completely unprecedented. In 1800 and 1824, the Electoral College stopped Aaron Burr and Andrew Jackson respectively from ascending into the White House, although in the latter case Jackson did finally become the president of the United States four years later.
The case against Donald Trump becomes particularly strong with the CIA now having officially confirmed that Russia meddled with the U.S. elections. On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the CIA had told key senators in a closed-door meeting that it had evidence to believe that Russia had hacked into the U.S. elections to give advantage to Donald Trump. The New York Times reported on the same day that Russia had hacked into Republican National Committee’s servers too, but had only released the information on Democratic National Committee’s servers. While Donald Trump’s transition team responded to the conclusions by questioning the credibility of CIA, in the process antagonizing the same intelligence agency Trump will have to depend on once he enters the White House, the explosive revelations have certainly pushed the president-elect on the back foot and may even weigh on the minds of the electors when they go to vote on December 19.
“To the extent that foreign interference in the United States presidential elections may have influenced the final result, I believe the electors have the right to consider that,” Rep. David Cicilline told Politico on Saturday.
Moreover, when one considers that a rogue faction of electors is already trying to make the representatives discard Donald Trump, it appears that there might still be a surprise on our hands, howsoever slim the chances may appear even at this stage.
That Donald Trump is mocking USA intel on Russia (and now it appears, in split with GOP) is the most troubling sign something bad here.— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 11, 2016
As Salon reports, in theory 306 electors are committed to Trump compared to Hillary Clinton’s 232. To become the next president, Trump needs 270 electors to vote for him, but if the rogue faction can make 37 Republicans vote against Donald Trump, he would not be the next president.
“My personal goal is a little more lofty than 37,” Michael Baca, a Colorado elector, said.
“Because I don’t necessarily want it to just get sent to the House, where there’s a chance they could choose Donald Trump or choose a different Republican. My whole message regarding the Hamilton Electors has been unification of Americans. And so again, ideally, I’d like 135 Democrats and 135 Republicans to avoid the House altogether. Now that’s quite a lofty goal, but that’s what we’re aiming for. If we fall short, I do believe that we’ll still be able to weigh in on 37.”
With even Republicans turning against Donald Trump following the revelations about Russia’s role in U.S. elections, it is now more probable than ever that the most unprecedented election in U.S. history may still have one last twist left in it.
To make sure that’s absolutely the case, a campaign called #AskTheElectors has also gained huge momentum in the last couple of days. More than 160,000 Americans have written directly to the Electoral College asking them to discard Donald Trump, and that number is only expected to increase dramatically in another week.
Find below a letter written by Scott Lawrence of California to the electors.
My name is Scott Lawrence from Santa Rosa, CA.
It seems the Russians tried and perhaps succeeded in hacking the US election to help Trump win. It seems the Republicans knew about this and let it happen according to the Washington Post. The Russians hacked the Republican Party but none of it was released. Why? To help their candidate!
Are you going to let the Russians decide our election?
When does knowing about this and doing nothing rise to the level of Treason?
Thank you for your time and consideration, I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.
Thousands and thousands of similar letters have found their way to the electors, and coupled with the explosive CIA report that has led to a clear breach in trust between the agency and Donald Trump, it is now possible that the president-elect may have committed electors voting against him on December 19.
Even so, 29 states in America require their electors to vote for the candidate who received the most votes within their borders, but the extent to which “faithless electors” will go punished remains unclear. But some electors believe the risk of punishment is worth it.
[Featured Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images]