Showing posts with label Electoral College. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Electoral College. Show all posts

December 19, 2016

Trump Wins The 270 to be Elected

 The electoral college proved to be just a stamp for the political parties, why then have them. In a democracy every vote counts not just 270.

The Electoral College formalized Donald Trump's election victory on Monday despite protests around the country to encourage GOP electors to abandon the Republican.

The president-elect easily racked up the 270 electoral votes needed to send him to the White House. Interest in the normally mundane voting process spiked this year as opposition to Trump continues to fester, fueled by Clinton's success in capturing over 2.6 million more votes than her Republican opponent.
Anti-Trump protesters descended on state capitols throughout the U.S. in a last-ditch effort to persuade so-called "faithless electors" in states Trump won to change their vote. Many of the Republicans casting ballots said they were inundated with calls and emails urging them to dump Trump.

And some electors did break with how their state voted, albeit in unexpected ways. In Washington, a state Clinton won by 16 points, the former secretary of state received just eight of the state's 12 electoral votes. Colin Powell received three votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one as part of an effort to promote a candidate other than Trump.

An elector in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast a ballot for Bernie Sanders, who unsuccessfully challenged Clinton in the Democratic primary. However state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both efforts.

Only one Republican elector, Christopher Suprun of Texas, publically pledged not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the president-elect last month. One other Texas elector also abandoned Trump in the final vote.
An Associated Press survey of the electoral college's 538 members found there was little interest from members in breaking from voting how their states did. Thirty-seven electors would have needed to defect from Trump to endanger him from winning.

The Electoral College met in all fifty states and Washington, D.C. on Monday. Congress will certify the results on Jan. 6 and the president will be inaugurated Jan. 20.


December 18, 2016

Elector: "here we are, 200 years later It’s the last shot we have.”

 The Federalist debate for the constitution

Pressure on members of the electoral college to select someone other than Donald Trump has grown dramatically — and noisily — in recent weeks, causing some to waver but yielding little evidence that Trump will fall short when electors convene in most state capitals Monday to cast their votes.

Carole Joyce of Arizona expected her role as a GOP elector to be pretty simple: She would meet the others in Phoenix and carry out a vote for Trump, who won the most votes in her state and whom she personally supported.

But then came the mail and the emails and the phone calls — first hundreds, then thousands of voters worrying that Trump’s impulsive nature would lead the country into another war.

“Honestly, it had an impact,” said Joyce, a 72-year-old Republican state committee member. “I’ve seen enough funerals. I’m tired of hearing bagpipes. . . . But I signed a loyalty pledge. And that matters.”

Such is the life these days for many of the 538 men and women who are scheduled to meet Monday across the country to carry out what has traditionally been a perfunctory vote after most every presidential election.

 Washington state elector Levi Guerra, center, at a Nov. 30 news conference calls for members of the electoral college to vote for a Republican “consensus candidate” rather than Donald Trump. (Steve Bloom/AP)

The role of elector has intensified this year, in the wake of a bitter election in which Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by a margin of nearly 3  million votes and the revelation of a secret CIA assessment that Russia interfered to help Trump get elected.

Amid the uncertainty caused by Russian influence, 10 electors — nine Democrats and one Republican — asked for an intelligence briefing to get more information about Moscow’s role. Their request was endorsed by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager.

“The administration should brief members of the electoral college on the extent and manner of Russia’s interference in our election before they vote on Dec. 19,” Podesta wrote Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday evening that it would not brief the electors, because it is engaged in a presidentially ordered review of the Russian interference. “Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the intelligence community stands ready to brief Congress” and may release findings, the ODNI said in a statement posted to its website.

Meanwhile, Joyce and the other 305 Republican electors who are supposed to cast their votes for Trump have been subject to intense campaigns orchestrated by anti-Trump forces to convince them that they alone can block the reality-television star from the White House.

Others have targeted Democratic electors, who are supposed to cast votes for Clinton, to persuade them to switch to a more conventional Republican who could also draw enough support from GOP electors to swoop into office.

While there is little sign the efforts will prove successful, the push has unleashed intense pressure on individual electors, who have now been thrust into a sometimes uncomfortable spotlight.

 Rex Teter, 59, a music teacher and preacher, received about 35,000 emails and 200 letters urging him not to support Donald Trump. (David J. Phillip/AP)
Joyce has received emails from “Benjamin Franklin” and “John Jay” — and a Christmas card that read: “Please, in the name of God, don’t vote for Trump.”

The rancor about the role of electors started early in the campaign. In August, Baoky Vu, a GOP activist in Atlanta, said he planned to resign from the job because he was so morally opposed to Trump. He planned to defer his voting responsibility to someone more willing — an alternate who would be put in place Monday.

After the election, Vu started getting phone calls and emails asking him not to resign. He was asked instead to consider joining a coalition of electors hoping to vote against Trump. He declined.

“I don’t think we should drag this election out any longer,” Vu said. “And can you imagine if the electors overturned the results? If we attempt to change them in any way, you’ve got these far-right elements that are just going to go haywire.”

Mark Hersch, a 60-year-old Chicago-based marketing strategist, joined a group known as the Hamilton Electors, who have been organizing efforts to contact electors and change their minds. Before the election, Hersch said, the most political activism he had ever undertaken was planting a yard sign.

He said he believes the goal to deny Trump seems reachable if not probable. Rather than persuade an entire country, he and his allies must find 37 Republicans willing to vote for someone else, a tipping point at which the responsibility of picking the president would shift to the U.S. House of Representatives. No one knows for sure how many are considering alternate votes; estimates vary from one to 25.

The GOP-controlled House could vote for Trump anyway, but those trying to flip voters say there is still value in taking a stand. Hersch said he was inspired to continue to flip electors by the movie “300,” which depicts an ancient Spartan army’s stand against a Persian force that outnumbered it 1,000 to 1.

“I would like to think we would be successful, but if not, we need to do all we could to prevent this man from being president,” he said. Then he modified a line from the movie: “Prepare your breakfast, and eat hearty, for tonight, we will go to battle. This isn’t 300, but 538.”

That “battle” has intensified as electors draw closer to their convening Monday. Joyce was getting 15 letters a day and 300 emails in the days after Nov. 8, but those numbers quickly increased to 50 and 3,000. Some of them have been form letters, others handwritten.

The letters came from Washington state and from China, stuffed with copies of the U.S. Constitution or Alexander Hamilton’s writing in Federalist Paper No. 68, which states that the meeting of the electoral college “affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

On Thursday, Joyce received so many letters that the letter carrier just gave her a U.S. Postal Service bucket filled to the brim.

“I’m sorry this is happening to you,” Joyce recalled the letter carrier saying. While some electors have complained of harassment, Joyce shrugged off the mail and placed it all on a sofa decorated with American flag pillows.

“This is America,” she said in a phone interview. “People have a right to say what they want.” She said most of the messages were thoughtful.

On Friday, she said, her emails became more positive. The messages were from Republicans, thanking her for taking Trump to the finish line of an arduous process.

“How refreshing!” she said.

Although some Democrats (who have in the past five presidential elections lost two in which they won the popular vote) and even Trump himself have questioned the necessity of the electoral college, many opposing Trump have said this election proves just how important it is.

Norman Eisen, a former ambassador to the Czech Republic who served as legal counsel to both the Bush and Obama administrations, began calling electors to explain that their job is not necessarily to certify the results but to have a reasonable discussion over whether the public made the right decision.

For instance, Eisen, who focused on government ethics in Obama’s White House, noted that Trump could be violating a clause in the Constitution that prevents presidents from receiving gifts and funds from foreign governments; it is unclear whether his businesses do because he has not publicly disclosed his tax returns.

In Massachusetts, Republican operative and attorney R.J. Lyman said he didn’t want to harass anyone, so he used his connections to find electors who were willing to chat about the lessons he learned in American history class and at the dinner table. He became one of the few people in the country more willing to talk about Hamilton the man than about “Hamilton: An American Musical.”

The electoral college, he said he tells them, was “not intended to be a rubber stamp.” Otherwise, he said, the Founding Fathers would have tasked the responsibility to a clerk or simply used the popular vote as a way of choosing a president.

“I’m reminding them of their duty to think about their choice in a way that’s consistent with their conscience and the Constitution,” Lyman said.

So far, Lyman said, he has identified 20 electors who might be willing to vote “other than their party pledge.” He couldn’t name more than one publicly but insisted that more were out there.

Earlier this month, Chris ­Suprun of Texas became the first Republican elector in a red state that voted for Trump to declare, in a Dec. 5 New York Times column, that he would not cast his electoral vote for Trump. Suprun voted for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the primary and said he left behind his wallet on Election Day and thus did not vote in the general.

Nonetheless, Suprun said, he was willing to vote for Trump in the electoral college until the candidate claimed with no evidence that millions of Clinton supporters voted illegally.

Suprun’s public stance has elicited death threats and hate mail, he said.

“As of yesterday, people are calling to say, ‘Get your ass together, or we’re coming for you,’ ” said Suprun, who was the sole Republican elector to ask for an intelligence briefing on Russia. “They are doing it with their own phone number, not even blocking the number. That’s not been surprising — look at what Trump says himself.”

Vinz Koller, a Democratic elector from Monterey County, Calif., said he read Suprun’s column and started thinking about his own role in the college. It inspired him to support a new theory: If he could persuade other Democrats to abandon their Clinton votes, perhaps he and Republicans could agree on a more conventional choice — a la Ohio governor and failed GOP candidate John Kasich — to vote for instead of Trump.

The plan seemed unlikely, he said, but Trump’s candidacy unsettled him so much that he felt he needed to try anything. California is one of 29 states that mandate electors vote for the candidate who won the state, so Koller sued to continue his plan.
“Frankly, this is hard and not something I do lightly,” he said. “I’ve been working in partisan politics a long time, and I don’t like voting against my candidate, but I never thought that the country might be unstable until now.”

On Thursday evening, he found himself in the Library of Congress. Strolling through its stacks, Koller sought a librarian with one request: Can I see the original Federalist Papers?

He looked to see Federalist No. 68, written by Hamilton to describe the need for the electoral college.

“We have been getting a civic lesson we weren’t prepared to get,” Koller said. “They gave us the fail-safe emergency brake, in case the people got it wrong. And here we are, 200 years later. It’s the last shot we have.”

December 14, 2016

20 GOP Electors Ready to Vote Against Donald Trump

Harvard University law professor Larry Lessig said Tuesday that 20 Republican Electoral College voters are considering flipping to vote against Donald Trump, more than half the number of anti-Trump votes needed to stall the president-elect from being sworn into office.

"Obviously, whether an elector ultimately votes his or her conscience will depend in part upon whether there are enough doing the same. We now believe there are more than half the number needed to change the result seriously considering making that vote," Lessig told Politico.

Lessig has been offering free legal counsel to "faithless electors" who are considering casting a ballot for an alternative candidate as opposed to Trump, who earned 306 electoral votes on Election Day, well above the necessary 270.
The claim that as many as 20 GOP electors would vote against Trump and the wishes of a majority of voters in their states flies against other reports.

Only a few voters have publicly said they will not back the results of their home states, and virtually every GOP elector reached by The Hill said they will vote enthusiastically for Trump.

Politico, citing GOP sources, reported that a Republican whip operation found only one elector, Chris Suprun of Texas, would vote against Trump.

Suprun announced in a Dec. 5 op-ed in The New York Times that he would not vote for Trump. 

So-called faithless electors are also a relatively rare occurrence in the Electoral College.

Only 82 electors in U.S. history have voted against their state's popular vote. None of those changed the outcome of an election.

Electors will cast their ballots on Monday.  

The Hill

December 12, 2016

College Electors ask for Information on Russia’s Election Hacking

We learn a couple hours ago that 
Ten Electoral College electors have asked U.S. intelligence officials for more information on ongoing investigations surrounding President-elect Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia.

For email registered readers

December 6, 2016

Rogue (Faithless) Electors’Talking’ in the Background-Clinton Wants No Part!

Short intro to the Electoral College:
The Electoral college System came about and it stayed even when there was no reason for people to stay home because of lack of transportation or roads (which was the original excuse) since by the 1800’s those problems were solved (if they ever existed). People could just vote in town at city hall or the courthouse or even at a school or church. The behind the scene reason however and the one no one wants to talk about was and sometimes is “slaves.” The slave owners were scare that eventually the slaves would have the vote. That sentiment became stronger as there were more and more freed slaves living in the populous north. The democracy way of one man one vote put these business people at a disadvantage. The electoral system ensured that the smaller in population slave owning states in the South would have a say of whom the President would be, not the populous “slave loving whites of the North.” Though the democracy fighting and free loving new nation became something other that a democracy of free loving people. Our nonsensical Electoral College still with us in the millennium making less and less sense on every election. Even if it doesn’t show it’s faults like it did in the past election, How can we tell people with a straight face,  every vote count?

One of the reasons Donald Trump made such a big deal of blaming Hillary Clinton for the recount even though He knew she had nothing to do with it but he wanted to warn her in no uncertain way to stay away not only from the recount but more importantly from trying to change any electors mind. You have electors that are Republicans and also Democrats and by Trump loosing the popular vote by so much which is never happened like this before at least there would be some talk among the electors about going rogue.

The last thing Hillary Clinton needs is to have a Derange with anger Trump and a GOP Congress come after her making her life miserable for the next few years. Still the recount is going without any support from Clinton and many believe that if the recount shows Clinton winning one or two states that were called as a loss for her it might change minds about the accuracy of the vote in general and the legality of Trump being declare winner by the electoral College.

Having said all that the media says there is no chance of the electors change their mind. I don’t know why they are so certain of that since it has happened before and it was the same media that said Hillary Clinton would win. 
Advocates of the long-shot bid to turn the Electoral College against Donald Trump have been in contact with close allies of Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions, but the Clinton camp — and Clinton herself — have declined to weigh in on the merits of the plan.

Clinton’s team and the Democratic National Committee have steadfastly refused to endorse the efforts spearheaded by a group of electors in Colorado and Washington state. But, as with the ongoing recounts initiated by Green Party nominee Jill Stein, the Clinton team has not categorically rejected them, leaving the collection of mainly Democratic electors to push forward with no explicit public support from the failed Democratic nominee or any other prominent party leaders.

In a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, former Clinton campaign officials declined repeated requests to comment on the Electoral College effort. DNC officials also have not responded to requests for comment.

The Clinton camp’s silence follows its cautious approach to another long-shot effort to deny Trump the presidency: the last-minute recount efforts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan launched by Stein. Stein’s aggressive push has annoyed Clinton aides but has also not drawn their outward condemnation — Clinton’s top campaign lawyer, Marc Elias, said in carefully chosen language Nov. 26 that the campaign will “participate” in the recounts, without expanding on its plans to get involved.

“Regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself,” wrote Elias.

The electors leading the anti-Trump push say they’re operating without regard to the Clinton campaign’s views and without its assistance. To some leaders of the anti-Trump effort, the lack of formal Democratic Party engagement is an asset as they attempt to woo Republicans.

“We’re really doing this on our own,” said Polly Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado and organizer of “Hamilton Electors,” the group encouraging Republican defections from Trump. “This is something we have to do as electors. This is our responsibility.”

But Clinton will not be able to avoid getting drawn into the Electoral College machinations. That’s because her husband — former President Bill Clinton — is a Democratic elector from New York. Aides to the former president have declined repeated requests for comment on whether he intends to fulfill the role or pass it to an alternate when New York’s Electoral College members convene in Albany on Dec. 19. Baca has indicated that she intends to reach out to all electors — including Clinton — for support.

Another leader of the Hamilton Electors group, Colorado elector Micheal Baca (no relation to Polly), said the group’s outreach efforts are wide-ranging.

“Given what’s at stake, we have been outreaching to everyone we can including electors, various members of both parties, and the media,” he said. “One of the most inspiring things about this entire process is how we have encountered such patriotism from both sides of the aisle and much willingness to unite for America.”

Backers of Hamilton Electors are also preparing a wave of lawsuits challenging 29 state laws that purport to bind electors to the results of the statewide popular vote. These laws have never been enforced or tested, and many constitutional scholars believe they conflict with the Founders’ vision of the Electoral College as a deliberative body. Courtroom victories, they hope, will embolden other electors to join their cause.

All 538 members of the Electoral College will meet on Dec. 19 in their respective state capitals to cast the formal vote for president. Trump won the popular vote in states that constitute 306 electors — easily above the 270-vote threshold he needs to become president if all Republican electors support him. That’s why anti-Trump electors are working to persuade at least 37 Republican electors to ditch Trump, the minimum they’d need to prevent his election, and join them in support of a compromise candidate, which could send the final decision to the House of Representatives. Clinton won the popular vote in states that include a total of 232 electors. As of Monday, she led in the popular vote nationwide by more than 2.6 million votes.

At least eight Democratic electors are promising to defect from Clinton and support a Republican alternative to Trump.

While Trump’s lawyers have been working to stymie the recounts, his campaign has paid little attention to the Electoral College initiative. The same is true of the Clinton camp. Clinton would need all three recounts to overturn the Election Day results to get to 270 electoral votes — an extremely unlikely scenario.

Recounts aside, there’s little incentive for the Clinton camp to become involved with the anti-Trump effort because it can result only in detracting from her electoral vote total. The only reason to engage at all would be to support an effort to deny Trump an Electoral College majority.

November 29, 2016

Another Trump Flip-Flop on the Election Count


Consider it another Trump flip-flop: back in October, Donald Trump told a crowd, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win."
Trump went on to decisively win the Electoral College, but now he is questioning the results anyway. In a tweet this weekend, the president-elect alleged — providing zero evidence — that "millions of people" voted illegally, and that that's the reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.
On a Monday morning phone call, members of the Trump team tried to back up the claim when NPR's Tamara Keith asked them for corroborating evidence. However, nothing they cited really made that case.
Jason Miller cited two sources on the call, as transcribed by CBS's Sopan Deb:
"In particular, I'd point to the 2014 Washington Post study that indicated more than 14 percent of non-citizens in both in 2008 and in 2010 elections indicated they were registered to vote. ... Some numbers include the Pew Research study that said that approximately 24 million, or one out of every eight voter registrations in the United States[,] are no longer valid or significantly inaccurate. And in that same Pew Research study, the fact that 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state. So all of these are studies and examples of where there have been issues of both voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting. ..."
The two pieces of evidence
First, there is the "Washington Post study" that Miller cites. He was referring to a 2014 post from the Monkey Cage, a political science blog at the Post. In that piece, Old Dominion University professors Jesse Richman and David Earnest wrote about a study they conducted of data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, an operation that conducts ongoing surveys of voters.
Richman and Earnest indeed found that "14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples" they used said they were registered to vote. Not only that, but some of those respondents said they in fact did vote.
However, the results of that study were heavily called into question, as Deb pointed out. In fact, that Monkey Cage article prominently features a disclaimer at the top:
"Note: The post occasioned three rebuttals (herehere, and here) as well as a responsefrom the authors. Subsequently, another peer-reviewed article argued that the findings reported in this post (and affiliated article) were biased and that the authors' data do not provide evidence of non-citizen voting in U.S. elections."
That peer-reviewed article comes from a team of researchers that includes Stephen Ansolabehere, who developed the CCES. He and two colleagues wrote at the Monkey Cage that Richman and Earnest's findings were based on "measurement error." For example, 56 respondents (a tiny sliver of people) changed their citizenship status between 2010 and 2012, and 20 of those had changed from citizen to noncitizen.
That's "highly unrealistic," Ansolabehere and his colleagues wrote.
"The mistake that Richman and his colleagues made was to isolate this small portion of the sample and extrapolate from it as if it were representative of some larger population," they added.
Later on, the Washington Post's Fact Checker likewise gave this claim (when made by Eric Trump) four Pinocchios.
That's one piece of evidence Miller put forward. He also pointed to a 2012 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The numbers he cites are in fact correct: That study showed that 24 million voter registrations at the time were "no longer valid" or were "significantly inaccurate," and that nearly 2.8 million Americans were registered in more than one state.
That's a sign that states' voter registration databases could use some extra upkeep but it's not itself evidence of fraud, as Miller said it was.
One reason it's hard to keep registrations up to date is that each state has its own system, plus safeguards to make sure people don't inadvertently get unregistered.
"We have these 50 different systems and different databases on voter registration," said Lorraine Minnite, a professor of political science at Rutgers University and author of The Voter Fraud Myth. "And we have a federal law that was passed in 1993 to protect voters from being illegally purged from registration lists for political reasons."
That 1993 law is the National Voter Registration Act, and it sets out specific provisions under which a state can remove a person from the voter rolls. Because of those provisions, a person won't instantaneously be removed after moving to a different state or dying, for example. Getting a driver's license in another state could cancel a person's registration in the original state, but both states first have to communicate with each other.
"So what has happened is that this notion that voter registration lists can possibly be 100 percent accurate at any point in time is a complete fiction," she said. "It's not allowed under federal law to be that way."
So Trump in fact — however inadvertently — did draw some attention to what many consider a real problem.
"If you lined up people from all political angles, they would agree that we in the country have a lot of room to grow on that, and that voters and election officials would be better off if we made common-sense reforms to voter registration," said Myrna Pérez, leader of the Voting Rights and Elections project at the Brennan Center for Justice. But she takes issue with his allegations. "The answer is not to create panic and to make allegations that undermine confidence in our elections," she said.
Voter fraud happens, but it's exceedingly rare
Donald Trump and his team have repeatedly alleged voter fraud in this election, alleging that the outcome would be "rigged."
As NPR wrote last month, it would be phenomenally difficult to "rig" an election via voter fraud. Fraud does happen, though instances are rare. And there's not a massive, systematic effort behind it that could sway a presidential election, as voter fraud expert Rick Hasen explained to NPR's Terry Gross in October:
"We do have some instances of voter fraud. The most common kind of voter fraud we see [is] usually in a local election where maybe dozens or 100 ballots could make a difference, involving absentee ballots. Usually, it's absentee ballots that are bought or sold. I'll give you $20 for your absentee ballot and then I can vote it the way I want. Unlike impersonation fraud, when it's an absentee ballot, you can verify how someone voted because you have the actual ballot, so that does happen.
"And for The Voting Wars, I was able to find regularly in local elections — and certainly in some parts of the country there's been an unfortunate history of this, in parts of Kentucky, South Texas, parts of Florida. We have had this kind of fraud. But it's been in small local elections, never on a large enough scale, I think, to affect a presidential election and not the kind of fraud that Donald Trump is talking about to affect the outcome [emphasis added]."
Unfortunately, it's always possible to find some sort of instance of shady behavior in any given election — the Trump campaign provided NPR with a 45-page document listing instances of voter fraud, as well as instances of intimidation and registration fraud, going back more than a decade.
However, the Trump campaign has yet to provide evidence that widespread fraud — involving “millions of voters" — in fact swayed the results of the presidential election, as the president-elect said it did.

November 23, 2016

Votes Still Being Counted, Clinton Still Ahead in Pop.Vote

Two weeks after Election Day -- as Donald Trump assembles his Cabinet -- votes in many states are still being counted. And the tally shows that Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote, with Michigan's 16 electoral votes still up for grab, continues to grow..

And so the question: How confident can Americans be in the results announced in the wee hours of Nov. 9, given the problems that continue to beset our election system? Here are some answers:

Question: Who won the electoral vote?

Answer: As of today, Trump has 290 votes to Clinton's 232, with Michigan outstanding. Even if Clinton wins there – a possibility despite Trump's lead since election night – she still would trail, 290-248.

Among other states where the vote was close, only Florida could flip the election. But she trails there and in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by too many votes to trigger an automatic recount.

Q: Who won the popular vote?

A: Clinton's lead of about 1.7 million votes continues to increase, largely due to an influx of absentee and provisional ballots still being counted in California. She has about 63.7 million votes to Trump's 62 million; her margin in California alone is about 3.5 million.

Q: Where are votes still being counted? 

A: Most states have yet to report officials results, meaning they are still counting absentee or mail ballots or, more likely, deciding whether to count provisional ballots. Those often are cast by voters whose names did not appear on registration lists, or who may have voted in the wrong place or lacked proper identification.

Q: Why does it take so long?

A: Millions of ballots come in at the last second -- or, in states that allow it, several days after the election with the proper postmarks. It takes money, manpower and accurate voting machines to get every vote counted correctly.

"We vastly underfund the way in which we run our elections," says Michael McDonald, a University of Florida associate professor who maintains a web site on the electoral system. "The bottom line is that you want to get the count right.”

Q: How close are the two candidates in key battleground states?

A: Three thousand votes are all that separate Clinton and Trump in New Hampshire. The margin is about 12,000 in Michigan, 27,000 in Wisconsin, 68,000 in Pennsylvania and 113,000 in Florida -- close, but nothing compared to the 537 votes that separated George W. Bush and Al Gore in Florida 16 years ago.

Q: Can the votes be recounted?

A: Several states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, require the vote difference between the two candidates to be less than one-half of 1 percentage point. In Michigan, a recount is triggered automatically if the margin is less than 2,000 votes. None of those states are close enough at the moment.

Could the Electoral College elect Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump?

Q: Is it possible that provisional and absentee voting results vary significantly from Election Day?

A: Yes, but it's unlikely. Despite changes in voting laws in some states that civil rights groups claim unfairly restrict minorities, the poor and elderly, provisional votes that are accepted usually don't alter the results.

“The chances of changing tens of thousands of votes? That’s just not going to happen,” says Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member now at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Q: What's the deal in California?

A: It's the largest state, with some of the most permissive voting procedures. More than half the state's votes are cast by absentee ballot, since no excuses are necessary to avoid going to a polling place on Election Day. Provisional ballots are treated more leniently than in many other states, requiring time to correct mistakes that otherwise would cause votes to be rejected.

Q: So when will the results be official? 

A: Eight states have certified their results; another four are due to do so Tuesday. Nearly all will complete their counts by Dec. 13, in time for the Dec. 19 meeting of the Electoral College -- the 538 individuals who, usually without exception, vote according to the results in each state. In some states, the final count may come even later.


November 18, 2016

Experts”Trump Can’t Be Elected Now,Electors Wont Change Minds”Wrong

Donald Trump will be the GOP’s presidential nominee. Within the party, talk of a brokered Republican National Convention or even a supporting a third-party candidate has circulated among those hoping to stop him from becoming the next president, leaving Trump antagonists across the spectrum to ponder whether there’s any fail-safe left, after November, to stop a Trump administration from becoming a reality.

There is. The electoral college.

If they choose, state legislators can appoint presidential electors themselves this November, rather than leaving the matter of apportioning electoral college votes by popular vote. Then, via their chosen electors, legislatures could elect any presidential candidate they prefer.

Remember, Americans don’t directly elect the president. The electoral college does: Slates of electors pledged to support presidential and vice presidential candidates are voted upon in each state every four years. Each state, and the District of Columbia, is apportioned at least three of the 538 electors, allocated by the total number of U.S. senators and House members each state has.

In December, these electors will gather in their respective states and cast votes for president and vice president. And in January, Congress counts these votes, determines if a candidate has achieved a majority — at least 270 votes — and then certifies a winner.

We take it for granted that the individual votes we cast will be the ones that select the slate of presidential electors in our state. But the Constitution makes no such guarantee. In fact, it says the states appoint electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”

Some  of the Founders worried that rash decision-making by the collective body politic would be “radically vicious” or “liable to deceptions” if they directly elected the president, for the people would lack the “capacity to judge” candidates. While members of the House of Representatives would be accountable directly to the people, presidential elections would occur indirectly. Electors, not the people, would elect the president. And state legislatures could decide how. (Most states now have laws binding electors to vote for the candidate who wins their state’s popular vote — but many states don’t.)
In the earliest presidential elections, many states did not have popular elections for electors. Their legislatures simply chose electors. Over time, states gradually moved toward the popular elections we now take for granted.

But state legislatures have occasionally retained the power for themselves. In 1876, for instance, the new state of Colorado opted not to hold a popular election for electors, with the legislature claiming publicly that it lacked sufficient time to organize an election. It’s more likely that Republican legislators worried that the people would vote for three Democratic electors and move to end Reconstruction in a closely contested election. The state legislature chose to retain the power to choose electors for itself — just that one time.

And state legislatures have modified the rules for the selection of presidential electors when they worry that the people of the state will vote for a disfavored candidate. In 1892, for instance, Democrats gained control of the Michigan legislature. They decided that presidential electors should be appointed according to popular vote totals in each congressional district, as opposed to the statewide winner-take-all system that had previously existed. Michiganders had consistently voted for a slate of Republican electors in the recent past, and the move to elections by district guaranteed that Democrats would win at least a few of electoral votes.

In McPherson v. Blacker, the Supreme Court approved Michigan’s move and found that the mode of appointing electors was “exclusively” reserved to the states. The court would not interfere with the state legislature’s decision, whatever the reason.

State legislatures should consider whether to retake this authority in the 2016 election in an effort to stop Trump. Republicans control 31 state legislatures. Many could consider this proposal, but the Texas state legislature is a natural place to start. It could easily pass a law returning power to the legislature.

On Election Day, the legislature could decide whether to vote for Trump or Mitt Romney, the prior Republican nominee; former Texas governor Rick Perry, who dropped out of the 2016 race early on; a popular GOP figure such as Condoleezza Rice, whose name has recently been floated as an alternative; or their own junior Sen. Ted Cruz, presently trailing Trump in the Republican Party delegate count.

Texas’s 38 red-state electoral votes are almost assuredly required for any Republican to get the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Casting them for someone other than Trump doesn’t help likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, because she also needs 270. So while one state’s electoral votes may not seem like much, it might be enough to deprive either candidate a majority.

And in the event no candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives selects the winner. Each state’s delegation of representatives gets one vote and selects among the top three electoral vote-getters — which would include the candidate who receives Texas’s 38 votes. Republicans control these House delegations, and they could select from Trump, Clinton and Texas’s preferred non-Trump candidate.
The decision need not rest with a single state, of course. Many state legislatures may worry about voters choosing between Trump and Clinton. It’d be a long shot, to be sure, but if enough state legislatures voted for their own electors this year, they could collectively secure the 270 electoral votes for their preferred candidate, who might not be either of these two candidates.
To take this extraordinary step, state legislators would have to decide that this election calls for an extraordinary change. And, of course, acknowledge that it could be deployed against any candidate in any presidential election — this year, four years from now and onward. It has seldom been used. But perhaps — just this once — legislators will conclude that the times call for a change to how we vote for the president.

Clearly, Trump supporters and, potentially, anyone who sees this sort of procedural move as a dirty trick, would object to this as anti-democratic. But voters’ preferences would still be reflected — albeit indirectly — in the decisions made by the state legislatures, whose members are elected by the people. And the existence of the electoral college, no matter how electors are chosen, means that the people, technically, have already been indirectly selecting their presidents.

Trump hasn’t won yet. But it is increasingly likely that we will reach precisely the kind of scenario that the Founders worried about — divisive political discourse threatens to thrust a dangerous candidate into office who appears inclined to govern more like a monarch than a president. Opportunities remain for cooler heads to prevail in our presidential election. And state legislatures should consider doing so this year.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that state legislatures could vote for electors on Election Day, while the electoral college votes in December 19th.

Derek T. Muller
Derek T. Muller is an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law

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