News & Politics

Democratic Electors Looking to Undermine Electoral College by Blocking Trump

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders wave to his supporters following a campaign rally at the Lexington Convention Center, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in Lexington Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Democratic electors are looking to undermine the Electoral College in order to deny Donald Trump the presidency.

Politico reports that several supporters of former candidate Bernie Sanders in the Electoral College are contacting Republican electors, urging them not to vote for Donald Trump and to vote for another candidate. These electors say they may not even vote for Hillary Clinton.

Their goal is not only to deny Trump the presidency — an extremely unlikely scenario — but also to delegitimize the Electoral College in order to force its reform or elimination.

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.

The underlying idea is that a mass defection of electors could provide the impetus for a wave of changes to the Electoral College.

“I do think that a byproduct would be a serious look into Electoral College reform,” said Micheal Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado who is spearheading the anti-Trump effort, along with Washington state elector P. Bret Chiafalo.

“If it gets into the House, the controversy and the uncertainty that would immediately blow up into a political firestorm in the U.S. would cause enough people — my hope is — to look at the whole concept of the Electoral College,” said another elector involved in the anti-Trump planning, who declined to be identified.

It will never get to the House, but their secondary goal of destroying the Electoral College may be achieved. I realize that even many conservatives think that’s a capital idea, so any Democratic effort to amend the Constitution to do away with the Electoral College will receive plenty of bipartisan support.

But at present, the Electoral College is how we choose the president and undermining its legitimacy is undermining the legitimacy of the Constitution itself. If you don’t like the Electoral College, fine — get rid of it. But until then, respect it as a device that was part of the original intent of the founders.

Simply put, a continental republic of states needs a continental republican system to ensure an elected president represents all corners of the nation — big and small, north and south, and everything in between.

National campaigns without an Electoral College won’t be “national” at all. They will be regional campaigns where the candidates concentrate their resources on the biggest states. Would a presidential candidate have visited Nevada or New Hampshire the last weekend of the campaign like these candidates did without an Electoral College? I doubt it. And most other states wouldn’t even get a sniff of a candidate if there were no reason to win the 4, 6, 8, 10 electoral votes contained in those smaller states.

We lose something precious if we forget that we are a republic of 50 states. And losing the Electoral College will make us forget some fundamental truths about America that make us who we are.