The Electoral College meets this Monday after one of the craziest election cycles in U.S. history.
Six weeks after the vote, in which Donald Trump unexpectedly won based on projected Electoral College votes, 538 people will meet to determine whether or not he will actually become the next president. This election has been a tumultuous one, with people protesting everything from the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, to allegations that Russia attempted to interfere in the election.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, according to Think Progress. Despite the reported numbers, Trump still claims to have won “in a landslide,” according to his Twitter account.
Such hubris from the future president is one of the reasons so many people are attempting to block him from the presidency, encouraging faithless electors not to cast their vote for Trump.
The likelihood of this outcome, however, is improbable. While members of the Electoral College are not bound to vote for a certain person, they traditionally vote for their party’s candidate.
There are a total of 538 electors coming from every state in the U.S. as well as the District of Columbia. They will meet in their respective states on Monday and cast a vote for the offices of president and vice president. After the results are tallied, a “certificate of vote” will be sent to the National Archives and to Congress.
While electors are not bound by federal law to vote in any certain way, electors almost always vote for their party’s candidate. Certain states have laws which punish electors for voting for someone else, although the fines for doing so are typically small.
Members of the Electoral College are chosen by state political parties and cast votes for president and vice president. Electors are typically elected officials or state party leaders. One of New York’s electors this year is Hillary Clinton’s husband and former president Bill Clinton.
At least one elector has already said that he will not vote for Donald Trump, despite being a Republican elector, according to the New York Times. The elector, Christopher Suprun, believes that it is the responsibility of the Electoral College to prevent unqualified candidates from becoming president.
“The United States was set up as a republic. Alexander Hamilton provided a blueprint for states’ votes. Federalist 68 argued that an Electoral College should determine if candidates are qualified, not engaged in demagogy, and independent from foreign influence. Mr. Trump shows us again and again that he does not meet these standards. Given his own public statements, it isn’t clear how the Electoral College can ignore these issues, and so it should reject him.”
While the Electoral College is meeting on Monday, people who are anxiously following the election will not know the official results of the vote until next year. Members of the House and Senate will meet on January 6 to count the votes from each state, announcing the results in alphabetical order. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is expected to preside over the count, as the honor is typically reserved for the departing president of the Senate.
The official winner of the election will be announced at this point, with the winner needing at least 270 votes from the Electoral College. Members of the House and Senate, however, are allowed to raise objections. They may challenge electoral votes or state results and petition to throw a questionable vote out.
While such objections are rare, in such a heated and contested election, it is quite possible that Trump protestors will encourage elected officials to use their power to challenge the election results.
Trump is projected to receive 306 votes, meaning that even if a handful of faithless electors vote against him, he is almost certain to win the Electoral College. People are still protesting, however, concerned with Trump becoming the next president.
The Los Angeles Times reported that protestors took to the streets Sunday night. One group, called the Hamilton Electors, is holding a candlelight vigil “to encourage members of the electoral college to vote their conscience when they cast their votes for president on Monday.”
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