To the chagrin of many, it’s true that we Americans don’t directly elect our president. This is basic Civics 101, but let’s refresh: Eligible citizens in each state vote and those votes determine which presidential candidate the state’s electors will vote for at the Electoral College weeks after the national vote.
Every state has their own rules for binding their electors, and all but two states (Maine and Nebraska) are winner-take-all. States can punish electors for not voting according to the state’s rules, but they are essentially free to break loyalty with their state and vote however they choose if they’re willing to face the consequences.
This is what is being agitated for on a Change.org petition to elect Hillary Clinton via the Electoral College that has received millions of signatures. Innocuous enough, but now the call to vote against Trump is being taken up by two electors, P. Bret Chiafalo of Washington state and Michael Baca from Colorado.
The duo has dubbed themselves ‘Hamilton electors,’ invoking Alexander Hamilton, the author of Federalist No. 68, which states that the Electoral College should be made up of people “most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.” This is a great thing. Our Founders wanted to ensure that the voting public could not elect someone unfit, which many contend Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton, both are.
The problem is Baca and Chiafalo are trying to get enough electors to vote against Donald Trump that neither candidate would get the 270 votes needed and the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives. This pitch was used by many who advocated voting for a third party in 2016 and during a time in which most assumed Hillary Clinton would be the victor on election night.
But, she didn’t.
The Republican nominee won and the House has a Republican majority. If the Electoral College doesn’t elect Donald Trump, then the House will. It’s an admirable last stand, despite Baca’s contention that Donald Trump cannot be president because of global warming, but it’s stillborn.