Arguing Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and asserting Donald Trump is “unfit to serve” and a “danger to the Republic,” more than 1 million people have signed a petition urging members of the Electoral College to vote for the Democrat when they meet next month.
The petition on Change.org declares, “There is no reason Trump should be president.”
To those who argue the election of Trump is “the people’s will,” the petition insists otherwise, because Clinton “won the popular vote.”
The petition points out the U.S. Constitution establishes that the electors choose the president, and it criticizes the 24 states that bind electors to the state’s popular vote, usually assessing a fine if the elector votes against his or her party.
The 538 electors, typically people who hold a party leadership position, will gather in their respective state capitols to vote Dec. 19. Traditionally, they vote according to their state’s popular vote.
The U.S. Constitution does not require the electors to vote for a particular candidate. But there have been only 157 so-called “faithless electors” in U.S. history who have gone against the wishes of their state’s voters, according to the nonprofit FairVote.
The petition states: “We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why? 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.”
The most recent faithless elector was a Minnesota elector who voted for the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee, John Edwards, instead of presidential nominee, John Kerry.
Prior to last Tuesday’s election, a Democrat elector in Washington state told the Associated Press he would not vote for Clinton if she won the popular vote in his state.
Robert Satiacum, a member of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, called Clinton a “criminal” who doesn’t care enough about American Indians.
Washington state would have fined Satiacum $1,000 if Clinton had won and he followed through with his vow.
A Republican Electoral College voter from Texas was quoted by Politico in August saying he would go “rogue” and vote for Clinton. But he backed off after Election Day, insisting he will vote for Trump as assigned, the New York Post reported.
In creating a republic, America’s Founders sought to strike a balance between pure majority rule and aristocracy, as Jarrett Stepman notes in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal.
In Federalist 68, Alexander Hamilton argued that while the people should have considerable power to choose the president, it’s “desirable” that “the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”
Heritage Foundations legal expert Hans von Spakovsky explained in a paper on the Electoral College that the Founders “struggled to satisfy each state’s demand for greater representation while attempting to balance popular sovereignty against the risk posed to the minority from majoritarian rule.”
Stepman pointed out that states are free to select the method in which they choose their electors, and in the early days of the republic, most states chose to have their legislatures pick electors, rather than the people.
By the time of the Civil War, every state had shifted to the popular election method.
Proponents of the Electoral College point out that a pure national vote would make smaller states irrelevant, with campaigns focusing their energies on major population centers.
An organization called National Popular Vote is pressing to eliminate the Electoral College through an amendment to the Constitution or a state compact. The group argues the current system encourages presidential candidates to spend most of their time in “swing states” rather than campaigning for votes across the entire country.
Von Spakovsky contests the assumption, because swing states “can change from election to election, and many states that are today considered to be reliably ‘blue’ or ‘red’ in the presidential race were recently unpredictable.”