With the Electoral College scheduled to vote mere weeks from now on Dec. 19, it's no surprise that opponents of Donald Trump are still mulling ways to prevent him from getting those 270 electoral votes he needs. That's a very tall order — even though electors can exercise their judgment in who to vote for (though they might face legal repercussions in some states), it would take a swing of 37 votes to deny Trump. But some of them are trying, a group of self-described "Hamilton electors."
As of now, they're a group of Democratic electors who are aiming to topple Trump's electoral vote majority by making the ultimate compromise: defecting from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support a non-Trump Republican, like the oft-mentioned Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
The theory is that while Republican electors might not be able to bring themselves to flip to Clinton, they could be persuaded to support a Republican alternative, rather than the inflammatory, inexperienced, and conflict of interest-laden president-elect the nation now faces. There are at least seven Democratic electors in the Hamilton group. There is also one Republican faithless elector, Texas elector Christopher Suprun, who announced he would not vote for Trump in an op-ed in The New York Times, but has not identified himself as a "Hamilton elector."
So far, the Hamilton electors have been identified as Polly Baca and Micheal Baca from Colorado, and Bret Chiafalo and Levi Guerra of Washington. The others have been so far unnamed.
The basic plan is that if a cadre of electors came together with at least 37 electors that Trump won to support an alternative, it would lay the groundwork for the House of Representatives to select whatever consensus, hitherto-unknown Republican they picked. That's because in the event that no candidate receives 270 or more electoral votes, the decision is kicked to the House of Representatives, with each state delegation getting one vote, and a majority selecting the president. As it stands now, with the House firmly in Republican control, that means only a Republican emerging victorious is even remotely feasible.
That's where the Hamilton electors' plan comes in: The rules are such that the House can pick the next president from any of the three candidates with the most electoral votes, meaning even a single vote going to someone like Kasich would enable them to be picked.
Of course, this is sort of a pipe dream in itself. After rolling over for Trump throughout the campaign, and then witnessing that his non-traditional political coalition was indeed victorious in November (even though it's a minority movement), the notion that the party would buck Trump in favor of an establishment Republican governor who lost the primary decisively, and wasn't even on the ballot on Election Day is more than a little absurd. It would require the party to both grow a lot more of a moralistic spine in dealing with Trump than they've ever shown to this point, and to risk the quite literal destruction of their voting base. If you had all the money in the world to bet on who'd win that vote, in other words, you'd want to bet it on Trump.
Even further, the Hamilton electors have another headache on their hands — figuring out who they're going to vote for, presumably somebody willing to take the effort seriously. Kasich's name has been in the mix as a prominent anti-Trump Republican, but he's already publicly asked electors not to vote for him, urging them to stick with Trump instead. And it's not hard to see why — while the Electoral College breaking for Clinton would be the most democratic outcome, given her massive popular vote win, picking someone that nobody wanted would be as destabilizing an event as has ever taken place in and American presidential election. It would effectively, regardless of the merits of the motivations, be a stolen presidency.
In short, the Hamilton electors are putting up a fight against very long odds, and are overwhelmingly likely to fail to do anything but embarrass Trump through forcing some defections here and there. But if you're the kind of person who sees value in diminishing Trump's victory, which comes despite him losing the popular vote by more than 2.6 million, you can probably appreciate a little last-minute tumult ahead of Trump's inauguration.