The election of Donald Trump as president is a bitter pill to swallow for millions of Americans — and some are backing a quixotic campaign to reverse that outcome.As of Saturday morning, more than 3.5 million people had signed a petition to the U.S. Electoral College, urging its members to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“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,” wrote Elijah Berg, who launched the petition on Change.org.
Berg, of North Carolina, argued that the Electoral College can award the White House to either candidate and should use its own “most undemocratic” institution to ensure a “democratic result.”
Berg continued: “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.”
Another petition on Faithlessnow.com similarly calls for more than 160 Republican electors to set aside their votes in states that don’t have laws binding them to do so: Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. The petition has assembled a list of the relevant electors.
Clinton is the first presidential candidate since 2000 to win the popular vote while losing the White House. In that year, Al Gore lost the Electoral College to George W. Bush. While Americans were still waiting to see whether Gore or Bush had won Florida’s 25 electoral votes, Clinton, the first lady at the time, called for the college to be disbanded so that no one would ever have to doubt again whether his or her vote counted.
“We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago,” she said then. “I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.”
And in a deep twist of irony, Trump has also called for the Electoral College to be abandoned. On the eve of the 2012 election, between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Trump called the Electoral College “a disaster for a democracy.”
After that election, in a tweet he has since deleted, Trump said, “The phoney [sic] electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one! [sic]” Trump tweeted this at a time when he thought Romney would win the popular vote, which ultimately was not the case.
The last time Gallup checked to see whether Americans would vote for a law to abolish the Electoral College was in 2013 — and 63 percent said they would.
So what is the Electoral College, exactly? American citizens did not in fact elect a president on Nov. 8; they chose electors. On Dec. 21, the 538 electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots for a candidate and ultimately decide the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The authors of the Constitution established this system for two reasons.
First, the founding fathers intended the Electoral College to serve as a buffer between the electorate and the presidency. They feared that a tyrant or someone incompetent would be able to manipulate the population and that better-informed, judicious electors could prevent this from happening. In other words, the Electoral College is supposed to act as a check on the citizenry, should it be hoodwinked by a demagogue.
So far (Saturday November 12th, 11:AM) over 3.5 million Americans have signed the petition. You can add your name by clicking this link: https://www.change.org/p/electoral-college-electors-electoral-college-make-hillary-clinton-president-on-december-19?source_location=discover_feed