It's a little ironic that the Electoral College—the very institution that got us into this mess—now holds the only hope of getting us out. It's admittedly a very faint glimmer of hope, but not an impossibility: Trump's electors could refuse to vote for him, and effectively nullify the election. The fact that Hillary won the popular vote gives the idea a moral and political credence. Yes, a general revolt of the Electoral College is utterly unprecedented in American history—but then, so is the election of a balls-out fascist as president. And there have been decisive outbursts before in American history of Mugwumpery—sensible Republicans so aghast at their party's own candidate that they defect to the Democrats. A New York Times primer on the Electoral College explores the question:
Has an elector ever 'gone rogue' or broken his or her promise? Would that be legal?
Yes, this has happened many times. There's even an insulting name for an elector who does so: a "faithless elector."
But faithless electors have never affected the final result of any presidential election.
The electoral college does not vote until December 19th. We have 40 days.
What does this mean?
Right now, the presidential election results are only a PROJECTION of the election outcome. They are PRELIMINARY RESULTS. A candidate still needs to earn 270 electoral votes to win. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, which means that more than 50% of the voters wanted her for president. The electoral college shouldn't guarantee an override of the public's opinion– and it doesn't have to.
There are 21 states that do NOT restrict which candidate the electors vote for.
Out of these 21, Hillary lost 16—worth 166 electoral votes. In these states, it is perfectly legal for electors to switch their vote. Now follow the math…
As it currently stands, Hillary Clinton is projected to receive 232 votes. Trump is projected to win 306. This means that 37 votes need to be taken away from Trump to bring him down to 269. Hillary Clinton needs 38 votes ADDED to win 270. These electoral voters can also abstain, which means that they can refuse to vote for either candidate. If 37 of the voters within these states abstain then no candidate will have reached the required 270. In this case, the vote would be taken to the House.
Trump won Pennsylvania, a state that typically votes blue, by less than 100,000 votes. While it is highly unlikely to get all 20 electoral voters to cross party lines and vote democrat, it also isn't impossible to convince a few of them to be "faithless electors." We only need to convince 38 out of the 166. That is 23%. There are SIXTEEN states we need to focus our attention on…
The accompanying map shows Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona and Idaho.
A move like this would be unprecedented. However, as we all saw on November 8th, odds don't guarantee reality. Trump had a less than 20% [chance of] winning, yet given the circumstances, enough people came together and made it happen. We can make this happen.
Ask yourself this: What do we have left to lose? We can stay complacent and accept that this country will be run by a racist, sexist, islamophobic, homophobic, ablest bigot, or we can at least try.
Other campaigners are using the hashtag #ElectoralNullification.
Daily Kos is in the wake of this debacle pushing a petition to "Abolish the Electoral College." By all means support it, but it won't get us out of the immediate mess now. The electoral nullification idea could. It is a longshot, but not impossible. We owe it to ourselves and posterity to do all we can to make this idea go viral by Dec. 19.