No Electoral College Anarchy
The Electoral College will NOT overthrow the general election result on December 19th.
Despite the hopes of many who were disappointed with the election and were searching for a miraculous event that would produce a different victor, the outcome of the election will stand and Donald Trump will be the next President.
People need to understand how the Electoral College actually works. It is clear that those saying there is a reasonable chance for a reversal of the general election do not understand the process and its limitations.
The first extremely important aspect is that many states have laws binding electors to the general election result. This means that by law Trump has 134 electoral votes locked down. Even if electors in those states tried to cast a different vote, they would be officially removed as electors and replaced with someone willing to cast a lawful vote.
Additionally, the electors are not a random slate of people or a representative sample from each state with all political affiliations represented. Each political party chooses a potential slate of electors and the slate that participates is based on which party wins the statewide vote in the general election. So, in the remaining states that went Republican (accounting for 172 electoral votes), every slate of electors will be made up of folks selected by the GOP in each state. It is very unilaterally partisan.
Who are these folks? GOP insiders, largely. Here is a list of the six names of Kansas’ Electors (all staunch Republicans) as an example:
To keep Trump to 268 electoral votes (since a 269 tie would not guarantee an outcome), 38 of the 172 GOP appointed electors (similar to the ilk of the Kansas list) would need to go rogue and refuse to cast their vote for Trump.
This won’t happen. There might be a few electors who rebel — but not anywhere close to enough to change the election result.
People can try to attempt anything they feel passionately about. So, yes, folks can make an effort to lobby these 172 electors and encourage them to refuse to vote for Trump.
But, if we think about who these electors are, we quickly understand that we would probably have a better chance of winning Powerball than getting 38 of 172 GOP insiders serving on these Electoral College slates to go against the general election result and fail to cast their vote for Trump.
Everyone should understand the reality of how the system operates so no one hopes in vain for something that just won’t happen. It is not useful or healthy to promote a fantasy that allows people to procrastinate dealing with a reality they do not want to accept.
Within the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), this Electoral College salvation narrative falls in the bargaining stage. Can’t we find some way for this not to be true and to wipe away what happened on November 8th? The answer is no.
A huge portion of the country is elated with the Trump victory and a huge number of folks are devastated. We must focus on getting past the initial dramatic reactions and moving forward to do the best we can with the hand the election has dealt.
Spoiler alert: It won’t be as glorious as some overjoyed supporters believe nor as disastrous as the vanquished fear.