By Erin Delmore
If you thought election season was over, think again. Members of the Electoral College sealed Donald Trump’s victory today at statehouses across the country.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadano said, “I want to welcome you all here.”
It’s a constitutional invention intended to keep small states at the table. It’s the Electoral College — not the electorate — that chooses a president. Electors from each state are charged with casting votes on behalf of residents. Some are required to reflect the state’s popular vote — that’s how we do it in New Jersey, and in around half the states. But the other half, well, don’t. And no part of the Constitution or federal law requires them to side with their state’s population. In most cases they’d just be slapped with a fine. This year, a complicating factor from the east. U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered with our election, heightening calls for re-evaluation.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Chuck Todd asked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta what he would you like to see the electors do.
Podesta responded, “Well look, I think that’s a judgment for them. I think we haven’t tried to influence what electors would do. I assume that our electors are going to vote for Hillary Clinton. But the question is whether there are 37 Republican electors who think that either there are open questions or that Donald Trump, based on everything we know about him, is really unfit to be president of the United States.”
Podesta raised the specter of faithless electors. Thirty-seven people switching to Clinton would be enough to put the brakes on Trump’s inauguration and send the vote to the House of Representatives. With its Republican majority, the chance of a Clinton win? Virtually zero.
But die-hard Dems and “Never Trump-ers” see one potential upside to that suicide mission: they could sow enough distrust in the electoral college to one day abolish it. Called “a disaster for a democracy” by the president-elect in 2012, the electoral college has been at odds with the popular vote in nearly one in 10 U.S. elections.
While Clinton won the popular vote by a heady 3 million margin, Trump took home 306 electoral college votes to her 232. A convincing victory, but not the landslide claimed by the candidate and his campaign manager.
In fact, Trump’s margin of victory ranks only 46 out of 58 elections. His popular vote margin, third to last.
“There is no reason for an electoral college. There really isn’t. It just really shows it’s not really part of democracy,” said New Jersey CWA State Director Hetty Rosenstein.
Republican electors say they’ve been inundated — even harassed — by residents begging them to switch sides. Through letters, emails, phone calls even threats.
In Pennsylvania there’s a plainclothes police officer for each elector as he or she travels to Harrisburg to cast today’s votes. In Wisconsin, more than 600 letters in just one day. In Arizona, 80,000 emails. Plus, protests across the country
Up until today, there have been only 157 faithless electors out of some 30,000 and never have they decided an election. The most recent, 2004 in Minnesota. An anonymous vote for John Edwards thought to be intended for John Kerry. The most numerous were 63 electors back in 1872 who declined to vote for that year’s Democratic winner because he died shortly after the election.
All of New Jersey’s 14 electors went for Hillary Clinton, as expected. Of the countries 538 Electoral College members, very few deviated from the script. In Washington state three electors cast their votes to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, one voted for a Native American activist. In Texas, one elector voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich another for Libertarian Ron Paul. Next stop Congress where the votes will be officially tallied. That will happen on Jan. 6.