WASHINGTON — Democrats have been bemoaning a Donald Trump presidency for two days after he beat Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night.
But there is a last incredibly long shot that could still get Clinton into the White House on Jan. 20 — a twist in the Electoral College.
Though Clinton led the popular vote by about 280,000 on Thursday morning, Trump has won the minimum of 270 electoral votes necessary to be elected president. As of late Wednesday, he had 290 to Clinton’s 228.
According to the Constitution, electors will meet in their respective state capitals on Dec. 19. In most cases, whoever wins the popular vote gains all of that state’s electoral votes.
The number of electoral votes per state is determined by the number of congressional districts plus one for each senator — a total of 538.
But there is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent any of the electors from refusing to support the candidate who won their state. Or from abstaining. They are dubbed a “faithless elector,” though 29 states ban the practice.
A petition on Change.org is pushing for electors to vote for Clinton instead of Trump. It had more than 175,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.
Part of the petition reads:
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.
Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.
Hillary won the popular vote. The only reason Trump “won” is because of the Electoral College.
But the Electoral College can actually give the White House to either candidate. So why not use this most undemocratic of our institutions to ensure a democratic result?
SHE WON THE POPULAR VOTE.
There is no reason Trump should be President.
“It’s the ‘People’s Will'”
No. She won the popular vote.
“Our system of government under our Constitution says he wins”
No. Our Constitution says the Electors choose.
“Too many states prohibit ‘Faithless Electors'”
24 states bind electors. If electors vote against their party, they usually pay a fine. And people get mad. But they can vote however they want and there is no legal means to stop them in most states.
It’s rare for electors to defect or abstain. Even in the razor-close 2000 election in which George W. Bush beat Al Gore, no one withheld their vote for Bush and gave it to Gore, who won 271-266 with one abstention.
The New York Times reported more than 99 percent of electors throughout history have voted as pledged.