There has been a last-minute effort to thwart Trump from becoming President, as the U.S. Electoral College is expected to certify the presidency on Monday.
538 electors are set to vote at state capitols nationwide. A handful of Democratic electors is trying to persuade their Republican counterparts to cast ballots against Trump. Although the process is usually a formality, it happens this year amid claims that Russian hackers sought to influence the result of the election.
Electoral College was set up by the founding fathers of the country as a comprise between the people and Congress to elect the President. Technically, the American people cast the ballot on the voting day, and Electors are mostly unknown to them.
There is a total of 538 electors, one each for a member of Congress. They are mostly elected officials or party functionaries. In order to win the White House, a candidate needs to take at least 270 electors (half of the total) plus one. Trump won 306 electors from 30 states.
Under the federal law, electors must gather on December 19 to cast two votes – one for the President and one for the Vice-President. Their Certificates of Vote then must be transmitted to the Congress by December 28. The U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden will preside as Congress officially tallies the electoral votes on January 6. Once the votes are counted, the result will be final, and Trump will be set for the inauguration on January 20.
The controversy has fuelled this year because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of three million votes, but could only secure 232 electors as she lost in key swing states. There have been renewed calls from critics to scrap electoral college as they think it is undemocratic and unfair.
Millions of Americans who don’t think that Trump is fit to occupy the Oval Office have signed an online petition asking their Republican electors not to vote as directed by their state’s popular ballot.
Electors copies of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s writing in his Federalist Papers have been posted by some people, which state that the
meeting of the electoral college affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
Although the U.S. Constitution or federal law doesn’t bound the electors to vote one way or the other, it’s highly unlikely that they will go against their state’s voters as history has shown. Twenty-nine states and District of Columbia bind their electors by law, but the electors who vote otherwise just only have to pay a fine.
A total of 38 electors would have to defect to deny Mr. Trump’s presidency. Only one Republican elector, Chris Surprun of Texas has come forward and said that he would not cast his vote for Mr. Trump. Even if the Republican electors come forward to defy Trump, this will only delay the inevitable. If no candidate reaches 270 in the electoral college, the House of Representatives must vote for the next President, and the Republican-controlled chamber would likely choose Trump again.