electoral college

Last-Minute Push to Sway Electoral College Voters Intensifies

Electoral College voters are probably really looking forward to Tuesday, when most of the attention on them will have likely abated. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

On the eve of Monday’s meetings of the Electoral College to select America’s next president, the pressure on hundreds of Electoral College voters from pro and anti-Trump forces has only intensified. One Arizona elector told the Washington Post that she has been receiving 50 letters and 3,000 emails a day, mostly attempting to convince her to vote for anyone other than Trump on Monday. A Texas elector told Politico he has received more than 200,000 emails in total, while others have received harassing phone calls, hate mail, and even death threats after activists published their contact info online. While there is essentially no chance that the efforts to sway Electoral College voters away from Trump will be able to change the result of the election, that hasn’t stopped the progressive activists and organizations that have committed themselves to the cause, nor has it stopped Trump supporters and Republican Party officials from contacting electors and making sure they are going to stick with Trump.

Progressive groups are reportedly set to protest at the various Electoral College meetings throughout the country on Monday, while this weekend, a group called Unite for America began addressing personalized videos to electors in which celebrities like Martin Sheen and Bob Odenkirk refer to the electors by name and ask them to vote their conscience and reject Trump.

Texan Chris Suprun, a Republican elector who wrote a New York Times op-ed announcing his decision to oppose Trump, has faced a barrage of criticism and vitriol from Republicans, and has even been accused by a Texas television station of making up his claim that he worked as a 9/11 first responder.

Suprun is also one of almost 80 electors, the rest of whom are all Democrats, to have requested an intelligence briefing on Russia’s alleged interference in the election, according to Politico. That request, which was supported by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and former Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, was denied on Friday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said that the intelligence community is busy preparing the report that President Obama asked for regarding Russia’s involvement in the election. The consensus opinion among U.S. intelligence officials that Russia intervened in the election in order to help Trump win has only raised the stakes for those still working to oppose the real-estate mogul’s election.

Twenty-one states, comprising 236 electoral votes, do not have laws which forbid “faithless electors” from voting for candidates who did not win their respective states. Half of states do have such laws, though the repercussions vary. In Colorado, Republican secretary of State Wayne Williams says he has been authorized by a state court to remove any electors who cast their vote for anyone other than Colorado popular-vote winner Hillary Clinton, and he plans to ignore a federal-court ruling on Friday, which called his authority to do that into question. That ruling, by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, suggested that any effort to remove an elector after voting has begun would likely violate the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution. Lawyers supporting the faithless-elector movement celebrated that Tenth Circuit ruling as an indication that electors in other states are now free to vote for whomever they want on Monday as well, regardless of their state’s elector-binding laws.

Trump is set to receive 306 electoral votes on Monday, well over the 270 he needs to become president. It thus remains extremely unlikely that efforts to select a candidate other than Trump will be successful, particularly when you consider the fact that most electors are state political-party leaders or elected officials, and thus very, very unlikely, at least on the Republican side, to buck their party’s president-elect. Because of this, most activists have been calling for a compromise candidate like Mitt Romney or John Kasich who might be palatable to such electors, rather than pushing for more votes for Clinton, who won the nationwide popular vote by nearly 3 million votes but lost the Electoral College. The most feasible anti-Trump efforts aim to sway nearly 40 Republican electoral voters who are bound to Trump, which would then throw the responsibility for selecting the next president to the U.S. House of Representatives (and that scenario would still overwhelming favor Trump becoming president).

Any other outcome, however unlikely, would also send the country and its democracy into unknown and unprecedented territory. One Electoral College voter, who was planning on having himself replaced on Monday since he refuses to vote for Trump, told the Post that he would not support efforts to elect another candidate either, insisting that “I don’t think we should drag this election out any longer. And can you imagine if the electors overturned the results? If we attempt to change them in any way, you’ve got these far-right elements that are just going to go haywire.”

The 538 voters of the Electoral College will meet in their respective states on Monday to select the next president, but their votes will not be counted by members of the U.S. House and Senate until January 6. After that count, lawmakers will be able to make an objection to any individual vote or state’s results, and if so, lawmakers will be able to decide if they support that objection or not, with the possible-but-unlikely outcome of votes being thrown out as a result. Congress has never sustained an objection to an electoral vote, and it’s more than reasonable to assume that even if the Republican-controlled Congress was given the opportunity to select a new president, they would still select Trump.

However, while Donald Trump will almost certainly become America’s next president one way or the other, there will most likely be tumult of an unprecedented scale during the Electoral College meetings on Monday. That there is at least one final crazy day left to go in this crazy election shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Final Push to Sway Electoral College Voters Intensifies