The presidential electors, the group of 538 who are authorized by the Constitution (as evolved) to cast the final vote in the presidential election process, are scheduled to meet on Monday – not in one big group but in their respective states – to cast those votes. The likelihood is that Donald Trump will receive at least the 270 electoral votes necessary.
But, as I wrote last week, there is an effort afoot to get at least 37 electors, who are supposed to vote for Trump according to the result of the popular vote in their states, to vote for someone else.
So far, only one Republican elector, Texan Christopher Suprun, has publicly declared that he will vote for someone other than Trump. Efforts have continued behind the scenes to recruit more. And a high-powered legal team has assembled to help with the legal arguments that electors – even from states that have laws binding the electors to follow the result of the popular vote in their states – have a constitutional right to vote for someone else if they believe Trump is not qualified or fit to be president.
On Wednesday the leader of that legal team, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, told the Independent that at least 20 electors have agreed to vote for someone other than Trump, and Lessig believes that enough others are considering the idea to get the total up to 30.
Even if 30 is the ultimate number, that would leave Trump with enough electoral votes to win. Lessig’s final statement on the numbers was that if the number of defectors got over 30 it would create “a very interesting dynamic,” which I can only assume means that he believes if the number gets close to the 37 necessary to prevent an Electoral College majority for Trump, some more, who have not been willing to join the defectors, will give it a rethink.
That could quite easily be wishful thinking on Lessig’s part. It rests on the assumption that many electors would be willing to vote against their state’s result, but only if they know it will be effective in blocking Trump from the presidency.
Also, as I wrote last week, even if Trump fell below 270, if the “faithless electors” did not all switch their support to Hillary Clinton, the effect would be throw the election into the U.S. House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans. So even then, the likeliest outcome would be the election of Trump, who is, after all, the Republican nominee. It’s possible to conjure a scenario under which anti-Trump House Republicans make common cause with Democrats in large enough numbers to throw the presidency to someone else, but as of now I’m extremely skeptical.
Also, 68 presidential electors from 17 states signed a letter asking the director of national intelligence to brief the electors on why the U.S. inelligence community believes Russia was behind cyberattacks intended to influence the election. But the agency has declined to do that until Pres. Obama completes the review of the matter, which will happen after the electors have voted.
The Electoral College system, by the way, is a ridiculous contraption and those who think it is a brilliant gift of the Framers should at least acknowledge that the way it works now has almost nothing in common with anything the Framers wanted, expected or intended.