Protests against the impending Donald Trump presidency continued across the country over the weekend, taking on the policies that he reiterated (if softened) in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday. The protestors' objections run the gamut from his promises to change Obamacare, appoint anti-abortion justices, and deport some 2 to 3 million immigrants. Meanwhile some have complained that the election is over, and there's no point in protesting what is already said and done. But the next president won't officially be chosen until the Electoral College votes on Dec. 19. So can the Electoral College elect Hillary Clinton anyway? The short answer: yes.
The Constitution makes it very clear that the electors are the ones who choose the president — and according to some arguments this was done initially to protect us from democracy (after a change in the early 1800s it really seems that it was more to suppress the votes of blacks since the South still had slavery — really not a great system). When the Constitution was drafted, FactCheck.org explains, founding father James Madison was worried that one group of citizens with a common interest or "factions" could harm the country or the rights of another group of citizens. Sound pertinent?
That's why the petition on Change.org — perhaps you've seen it shared on Facebook or Twitter — are asking the electors to change their vote to Clinton. These are real people — 538 people from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. — that make the final decision and vote as they wish. They meet in their respective states Dec. 19 and then the votes are sent to D.C. to be counted in front of Congress on Jan. 6.
Were they to change a vote for Clinton or someone else, they would become what's called "faithless electors." Some would have to pay a fine due to state laws, but there's nothing truly stopping them. Here's what Elijah Berg of North Carolina, who started the petition, said on Change.org about the current system:
If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. 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.
The key to making that happen will be pressuring the actual electors themselves. That's what the petition is trying to do. More than 4.2 million Americans have already signed. States can also change their laws in the meantime to show they support this move. None have done so in these tense days since Trump won the Electoral College math, but Maryland did so back in 2007. They passed a law that gave their electors the right to change their vote to support the winner of the national popular vote — that's Clinton this go around.
Ultimately this might be an uphill battle as electors are Republicans, and they would have to vote in the best interest of the country as a whole — but not necessarily in the best interest of their party. But as Berg writes in his petition, "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." That's a pretty good argument, if you ask me.