Rebel electors plotting to keep Trump out of White House
Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30
Several of the electors who will officially select the US president next month are plotting to undermine the electoral college by casting their votes for a candidate other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
The small group of Democratic electors initially hoped to bring enough of their Republican counterparts on side to keep Mr Trump short of the 270 votes he needs to be named president.
That plan would see electors from both sides of the aisle cast ballots for a moderate Republican like John Kasich or Mitt Romney, draining support from both presidential nominees and denying Mr Trump a majority of votes.
In such circumstances the Constitution dictates that the House of Representatives would step in and elect the next president.
But while such a scenario is a virtual impossibility - it would require 37 Republican electors to abandon Mr Trump - the electors have other plans in mind.
They believe that if they can recruit enough electoral college members to refuse to vote according to the state-by-state results, they can raise significant questions about the college itself.
The college was designed to serve as something of an escape hatch, allowing for a candidate considered unsuitable for office to be denied the presidency.
In modern times it has functioned as a formality, with the electoral college vote mirroring the state-by-state results from election day exactly, or close to it.
The college votes by state, with electors for each casting their ballot for whichever candidate won a plurality there. Some states do not mandate which way their electors must vote, however.
The rebellious Democratic electors believe that if they can recruit a record number of so-called 'faithless electors', they can raise doubts about the electoral college itself. "I do think that a by-product would be a serious look into electoral college reform," Michael Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado, told Politico.
"If it gets into the House, the controversy and the uncertainty that would immediately blow up into a political firestorm in the US would cause enough people - my hope is - to look at the whole concept of the electoral college," another elector said.
There have been no faithless electors since 2004, and not since 1912 has more than one elector gone rogue.
Mrs Clinton's victory in the popular vote but loss under the electoral college has convinced many Democrats that the system needs to be changed.