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Donald Trump

"The Democratic electors are convinced that even in defeat, their efforts would erode confidence in the Electoral College and fuel efforts to eliminate it," Politico writes. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Electoral College Revolt? Dem Electors Seek to Reject Trump, Dismantle System

"We're trying to be that 'break in case of emergency' fire hose that's gotten dusty over the last 200 years"

Nika Knight Beauchamp

As the right-wing specter of a Donald Trump presidency looms, Democratic electors are fomenting an unprecedented revolt in order to block Trump from taking a majority of Electoral College votes.

Politico reports that "at least a half-dozen Democratic electors" have agreed to the effort, which they also hope will serve 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[...]

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.

The two electors leading the effort, Michael Baca and Bret Chiafalo (from Colorado and Washington state, respectively), refer to themselves as the Hamilton Electors. Founding father and first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College exists so 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."

"We're trying to be that 'break in case of emergency' fire hose that's gotten dusty over the last 200 years," Chaifolo told the Atlantic. "This is an emergency."

Chiafalo and Baca write on their site that "we hope that Electors from both red and blue states will answer the Founding Fathers' call, deliberate, and unite behind an alternative Republican Candidate: the Hamilton Candidate."

It is unclear how many electors plan to be "faithless," meaning they'll refuse to vote for their party's candidate, notes Politico. The outlet adds: "Already, the six Democrats prepared to be 'faithless' electors would be the most to defect from their party's presidential candidate since 1872, when Democratic nominee Horace Greeley died before electors cast their votes. The last time that many electors rejected a living presidential candidate was 1808."

The electors will cast their votes for president on December 19.

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