In eight days, on Monday, December 19th, electors will meet in each state capital. They will cast their votes for the next President of the United States. Each elector also will vote, separately, for the next Vice President. The electors’ votes in each State then will be added up to determine nationwide totals. In each race, the candidate who receives 270 or more electoral votes will win the office.
Each State’s law provides that its electors shall vote based on popular voting in that State. At this time, popular vote counts indicate that Donald Trump is entitled to 306 electoral votes, and that Hillary Clinton is entitled to 232 electoral votes. Although some States are still completing their initial counts of absentee, military, provisional, and other ballots, and although a few States are recounting votes, it is not expected that the popular vote winner in any State will change. Thus while Clinton won the national popular vote by over 2.6 million votes (at present count), 48.2% for Clinton to 46.3% for Trump, he won enough States to earn more than 270 electoral votes, if each elector votes based on his or her State’s popular vote.
Trump will be elected president, however, only if a sufficient number of electors do cast their ballots for him.
The Electoral College was not created to be an unthinking rubber stamp. And across U.S. history, some electors have voted other than as-pledged, choosing not to vote for a candidate whom they regarded as unfit for or undeserving of the office. Indeed, it’s reasonable to assume that most electors across U.S. history have voted not as automatons, but based on reflection and then a personal decision that the candidate to whom the elector was pledged, the candidate who won the popular vote in the elector’s State, was fit to be president or vice president.
For honest, conscientious 2016 electors, which I sincerely assume each of them to be, there are numerous, powerful reasons to think about voting for Clinton, not Trump, including:
- Most of the voters preferred Clinton;
- U.S. government intelligence agencies have determined that Russian government espionage helped Trump significantly, including by injecting information into the campaign that depressed Clinton vote totals, especially in States she lost narrowly;
- Trump’s business dealings, including with foreign governments, pose grave questions of conflict of interest, illegality, and disloyalty to the U.S.; and
- Trump’s proposed nominees to Cabinet and other high offices include persons whose beliefs and policy commitments run against the best interests of the U.S. and its people.
This week, the week before electors will cast their ballots on December 19th , is the time for these very serious political arguments.
Donald Trump, conducting himself as president-elect, is in effect continuing to argue that the electors should elect him.
For the sake of the country, Hillary Clinton should complete her campaign for president by joining, by rebutting, that argument. I don’t believe that the odds are in her favor. But if—
- if she gives voice, thoughtfully, to all of the issues that now surround who should be the next president;
- if she explains why she should be chosen and how she would work, in assembling a government and in pursuing policy priorities, to repair wounds and advance the life of every American;
- if she articulates a “unity, especially now” vision, including how we could get past the anger that her election would cause…
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Clinton, in this final week of campaigning, would be doing best her chosen tasks, running for and preparing to be President of the United States. And she would be doing everything that she could, which is what we reasonably ask of our presidential candidates, to serve and protect a great America.
Thirty-eight electors in States where Trump won the popular vote have the power, personally and legally, to elect Hillary Clinton.
She should seek, with everything she’s got, their votes.