As half the country learned two weeks ago, we do not select our president by popular vote, our president is selected by Electors in our Electoral College; a safeguard against pure democratic rule.
As far as modern history is concerned, Elector’s votes are typically congruent with their respective state’s popular vote.
Now, a handful of Democratic electors are threatening to vote their conscience:
At least a half-dozen Democratic electors have signed onto an attempt to block Donald Trump from winning an Electoral College majority, an effort designed not only to deny Trump the presidency but also to undermine the legitimacy of the institution.
The presidential electors, mostly former Bernie Sanders supporters who hail from Washington state and Colorado, are now lobbying their Republican counterparts in other states to reject their oaths — and in some cases, state law — to vote against Trump when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19.
Even the most optimistic among the Democratic electors acknowledges they’re unlikely to persuade the necessary 37 Republican electors to reject Trump — the number they’d likely need to deny him the presidency and send the final decision to the House of Representatives. And even if they do, the Republican-run House might simply elect Trump anyway.
But the Democratic electors are convinced that even in defeat, their efforts would erode confidence in the Electoral College and fuel efforts to eliminate it, ending the body’s 228-year run as the only official constitutional process for electing the president. With that goal in mind, the group is also contemplating encouraging Democratic electors to oppose Hillary Clinton and partner with Republicans in support of a consensus pick like Mitt Romney or John Kasich.
It’s an interesting ideological conundrum for Democrats — side with die hard Bernie fans and champion a move to block a Trump presidency and agree that the Electoral College has it’s advantages or continue decrying the electoral process, pushing for a change that’s already brewing in the fringes.
As Politico pointed out, it’s extremely unlikely the renegade Electors will be able to syphon enough support away from Trump to change the outcome of the election. Though, if they did, I’m not sure how it would prove the system inadequate. If anything, it would be a nationwide lesson on how we’re actually a republic and not a democracy.
Democrats aren’t limiting tumult to their own side of the Electoral College. There’ve been numerous reports of Republican Electors receiving death threats from Hillary supporters:
And so now, some Electoral College voters say, they’re receiving fewer attempts at persuasion, and more strong-arming—including the occasional death threat.
“At first everyone was kinda enchanted by it,” one Texas elector told local media. “Now all the electors are starting to get beaten down. There are some electors who have been threatened with harm or with death.”
In Georgia, things got bad enough that the Secretary of State issued a statement warning that Clinton supporters who harass Electors over the phone—including anyone who encouraged the practice —could be subject to dire consequences. In Arizona, Electors reported as many as 8,000 calls, some of which, they say, became “hateful.”
“They demonize me, they call me a homophobic, an isolationist, a bigot, a misogynist, and an anti-Semite, which is interesting because I’m Jewish,” one Arizona delegate told the Arizona Republic.
One Michigan Elector, Michigan Young Republicans Chairman Mike Banerian, was forced to file a police report after his voice mail filled up with terrifying messages. “You have people saying ‘you’re a hateful bigot, I hope you die,’ ” Banerian told the Detroit News.
“I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive.”
That’s tolerance for ya.
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