How 270 Electors Could 'Blow Up the System'

Such an insane scenario is still possible
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2016 10:32 AM CST
How 270 Electors Could 'Blow Up the System'
President-elect Donald Trump speaks in Grand Rapids, Mich., Dec. 9, 2016.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

With days to go until 538 electors officially decide on the next US president, the "faithless" are hard at work to ensure that person is not Donald Trump. Activists need to convince 232 Democratic electors plus 38 Republican electors to vote for someone else. That person would presumably be a Republican, not Hillary Clinton, as there are more Republican national electors overall, but activists hope Democrats feel anyone would be better than Trump, reports KDVR. Is such a scenario at all likely?

  • It would certainly be a break with tradition. Throughout US history, more than 99% of electors have voted for the candidate who won their state, which is legally required in 29 states, reports the AP. However, "no elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged."
  • It wouldn't be unconstitutional as electors are only required to "meet in their respective states and vote by ballot," writes Columbia law professor David Pozen at the New York Times. Indeed, he argues electors have an "obligation to preserve the country and the Constitution" and should stand against what might be perceived as a threat.

  • At the Washington Post, EJ Dionne Jr. recommends electors think long and hard before making their decision. "Our tradition—for good reason—tells you that your job is to ratify the state-by-state outcome of the election," he writes. "The question is whether Trump, Vladimir Putin and, perhaps, Clinton’s popular-vote advantage give you sufficient reason to blow up the system."
  • The AP lays out the pros and cons of doing away with the Electoral College system altogether, stressing it was developed at a time when voters may not have had the opportunity to hear from a candidate out of state. Some 230 years later, that's no longer an issue.
  • But that's a conversation for a later date, Charles Lane writes at the Post. Trump and Clinton knew they needed to win the Electoral College to become president. Those now complaining about Trump becoming president despite Clinton leading him by 2.6 million votes nationwide might as well complain that the NFL on Sunday "awarded the Tennessee Titans a win over the Denver Broncos because they scored more points, even though the Broncos got more total yards."
Electors vote on Monday. (More electoral college stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.