Faithless Electors: Understanding the December 19th Electoral College Vote

By Jon Harris:

Faithless Electors?

Pretty bad connotation if you ask me.

December 19th the Electoral College will come together and officially cast their votes for President.  They are elected, or selected, to represent the wishes of the voters in their respective states.  After the Trump victory, there have been several attempts to tarnish if not nullify his election to the highest office in the land.  The point is, through our system, Donald Trump IS the President-Elect.

So what has happened to throw all the smoke and supposition around the election?

First, Donald Trump was an outsider.  The chances of him being elected when this all started was not taken seriously.  Then, he did not run the normal campaign.  This was something the politicos had not seen and didn’t understand.  Next, as the votes came in, state by state in the primaries, it became very evident that Donald Trump and the support he had developed had been sadly misunderstood by his opponents and the media.  Lastly, on election night, he wins and wins rather decisively as to Electoral College delegates.  This is how we elect Presidents and he and his campaign approached the election with that understanding.

Now, there is a knee jerk reaction of the losing party, not only in the Presidential election arena, but also in the rest of the races as well.  The entire government will be under Republican control with Donald Trump at the helm.  The Democratic Party is in shambles and in a panic.

When that happens to an organization, or anyone for that matter, when they are backed into a corner in an obviously losing situation, they look for any straw to grab.  The drowning man will climb on top of anyone to save himself and that is what is happening here.  Last week we saw the failed recount attempt in three states.  Ironically, those three states, had they gone for Secretary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, would have turned the election the other way.  After millions of dollars spent and tremendous effort claiming “Russian hacking” and influence in the election, the result of the recount showed Donald Trump actually picked up votes where they were recounted and the other recounts were stopped due to no evidence of any “hacking” as was claimed.

So what is the last dying gasp for the losing candidate?  The Electoral College.  These men and women are to vote for the candidate that won in their respective states.  That means Donald Trump would be the newly elected President.  But, and here is the kicker, not all of the electors are “bound” by law to do that. They are allowed to vote their conscience.  For this to have any effect on this particular election, 37 Faithless (that is a terrible title to have) Electors would have to vote against their constituents’ wishes.  In the history of the American Presidential elections, that has never happened.  When a candidate won the required number of electoral votes as happened here, they have always been certified as the President.  The move to actually have the Electors vote against their commitment is a possibility, but as of this writing, only one elector has voiced their intention to vote against their state’s voters’ wishes.

So what happens if this improbable action takes place?  Then an entire system goes into effect.  After the Electoral College votes are cast on December 19th, the results will be certified by each state’s Secretary of State and sent to Washington by Dec. 28th.  Congress will meet on Jan. 6th to count the electoral votes.

If Trump does not receive the needed majority of 270 Electoral votes, then the 12th Amendment holds that the final decision will fall to the House of Representatives.  The information below is directly from https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/key-dates.html

If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary, the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.

If no Vice Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment provides for the Senate to elect the Vice President. If necessary, the Senate would elect the Vice President by majority vote, choosing from the two candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each Senator having one vote.

Since Republicans currently control the House of Representatives, the chances of them electing the Democrat candidate are slim to none, and even John Kasich says he wants no part of it.  If Trump does not receive the required 270 electoral votes, that is not a guarantee that Secretary Clinton would either. Even if Trump lost 37 Electoral votes, the Republican House of Representatives could very easily vote him right back in with a simple majority, which they hold, 241 seats to the Democrat 194seats.  Voting Trump out of the Presidency by the House of Representatives is simply not going to happen.

The main takeaway from this is the following:  We as American voters expect our system to work a certain way.  Our candidates also operate on that same basis.  Having that system turned on its head would not only bring into question the system itself, but also the integrity of the entire election.  I cannot imagine the voters thought that the Electoral College would disregard their vote.  It is inconceivable that the voters of a state would ever contemplate that when they select their candidate by majority vote, they would expect their delegates to ignore their decision and simply refuse to follow the result of the vote.  If the Electoral College cannot be trusted to vote the way the people of their state choose, then they do not need to be electors.

On the other hand, if the President is to be elected by popular vote only, then the system of how we elect Presidents has to be changed and the Electoral College done away with.  That would take a Constitutional Amendment and for this election, it is simply impossible to change now.

There is a reason they are called, “Faithless Electors.” They break their trust with the people they are supposed to represent.  I know that is not a label I would want to wear.

Jon Harris is an OpsLens contributor and former Army NCO, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community.


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