Published on
Sacramento Bee (California)

What the Electoral College Must Do

A rejection of Donald Trump by the Electoral College won’t happen, but it should.

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This is our last moment to stop a Donald Trump presidency. But how many times have we thought that?

He won despite the racist and misogynistic remarks, the failure to release tax returns, the many lies about policy positions and Hillary Clinton, the debate performances and the early morning Twitter rants – any of which would have sunk any other presidential candidate.

Many of us have not only egg, but a full omelet, on our faces because we wrote off Trump as a horrifying, embarrassing, buffoonish sideshow who could never make it through the long Republican primary campaign, much less hold on to GOP strongholds and flip Democratic states in the general election.

But Monday really is the last chance.

If a majority of the Electoral College chooses Trump, he will be our next president. At that point, the only way to stop Trump will be to end his presidency early through impeachment proceedings.

We do not actually elect a president on the second Tuesday in November. Instead, we vote for a slate of electors, who will meet Monday in state capitals. The vast majority will cast their ballots according to the Nov. 8 results in their state.


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The only way to stop a Trump presidency is if there’s a critical mass of “faithless” electors – those who will not vote for Trump even though he won the popular vote in the state they represent. This won’t happen, but it should.

First, the whole purpose of the Electoral College is to act as a safety valve, to save voters from ourselves. Under this argument, a group of wise party elders can ensure that we do not make a would-be autocrat the leader of the free world.

Second, there is this pesky issue of the Russian government potentially swaying the election. This falls under a larger category of things we know now that we didn’t know before voting, which also includes Trump’s apparent decision not to divest his investments, along with his decision not to obtain to daily intelligence briefings. It is reasonable to call into question his fitness to serve as president.

Third, there is the fact that a majority of voters chose Clinton, though this may be more of an argument for eradicating the Electoral College than for electors to change their votes.

These are but three reasons that members of the Electoral College should put a stop to the looming disaster that would be a Trump presidency.

Jessica Levinson

Jessica A. Levinson is a professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

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