The Electoral College vote is happening today and Clinton supporters have one thing on the mind: could Hillary Clinton somehow be elected over Donald Trump? While granting her the win is constitutionally possible, election experts say it’s not going to happen.
Shortly after Donald Trump became the President-elect, a Change.org petition encouraging members of the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton on December 19 was created. With more than 4.3 million signatures, the petition argued that Trump is “unfit to serve” and that “Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.” Trump won the Electoral College with 306 votes to Clinton’s 232, but lost the popular vote by over 2.5 million votes.
“If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win,” the petition states. “However, they can vote for Hillary Clinton if they choose. Even in states where that is not allowed, their vote would still be counted, they would simply pay a small fine – which we can be sure Clinton supporters will be glad to pay! We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton.”
But don’t get your hopes up just yet — it’s not likely that electors will go against their state’s original vote. According to FairVote, there have only been 157 “faithless electors” in the country’s history, a figure that USA Today notes as being “deceptively high.” A “faithless elector” is a member of the Electoral College who does not vote for their party’s designated candidate, and a large number of them (71 to be exact) were changed because the original candidate died before the Electoral College cast its votes. A faithless elector has never affected the outcome of a presidential election.
“Presidential Electors are theoretically free to vote as their consciences dictate, something the founders anticipated Electors would indeed do under Hamilton’s Electoral College invention,” Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School told USA Today. “In the current situation, where both incumbent President Obama and the candidate who won a popular majority nationwide, Hillary Clinton, have made such a huge point of accepting Donald Trump as the President-elect, and where both Obama and Clinton have repeatedly insisted that such acceptance is vital to the peaceful transition our democracy requires, I frankly cannot imagine either of them supporting the proposed move to have the Electoral College elect the former Secretary of State on December 19. And, without their support, the move seems doomed to fail.”
Kermit Roosevelt, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School agreed. “[While there is] no clear requirement in the Constitution that electors vote for the candidate they’re pledged to … it’s very unlikely that defections will happen now.”