What Electoral College Protests Say About American Political Discourse

On Monday, December 19th, 538 electors nationwide cast their vote for the President of the United States. Presumably, President-Elect Donald Trump would walk away with the 270 votes needed to officially win the election, but this was nonetheless met with objections from protesters nationwide, who made one final plea to local Republican electors to deny Trump the presidency. Some electors described receiving letters from anti-Trump protesters simply describing their disdain for the president-elect to documents using the revelation of Russia’s intent to hack Democratic National Committee emails in favor of a Trump victory to deter electors.

One member of the Electoral College, Republican elector Chris Suprun, expressed clearly that he would not be casting his vote for Trump. Suprun expressed in an op-ed with the New York Times in early December that he refused to “vote on December 19 for someone who shows daily he is not qualified for the office” and even pleaded his fellow Republican electors to exercise their “legal right and constitutional duty to vote their conscience.”

While the probability of electors actually voting against their state in large enough numbers to actually change the election’s outcome was fairly low (the last time faithless electors changed the outcome of an election was in 1836. This is also the highest number of faithless electors in the four Presidential elections since 2000), the extent of the backlash has shown the strength of the American people to push for a stronger democracy. More people are pushing for the eradication of the Electoral College altogether, as it is evident that the electoral vote is not always representative of the people’s choice. And the fact that several states mandate electors to remain true to their state’s popular vote through state law and threaten up to a $1,000 fine if they don’t doesn’t give electors much incentive to vote differently, even if it’s against their conscience.

As electors cast their votes on Monday and brought an official close to the undoubtedly tense 2016 presidential election, a majority of electors remained faithful to their state’s decision, with some even live-tweeting their meetings with the hashtag “#RemainFaithful”. Trump officially won the presidency with 304 electoral votes, compared to Hillary Clinton with 227.

The election will officially end on January 6, 2017, when Congress will meet to count the electoral votes in a joint session. Trump will be officially sworn in on January 20, 2017.

Kesi Felton

Fellow

Kési Felton is a junior Journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia.She currently serves as the Content Director for Her Campus Howard and the Director of Communications for the Howard University Student Association. In addition to writing her own personal blog, she has written articles for The Hilltop, Walker's Legacy and Pretty Girls Sweat, LLC. Through digital storytelling, Kési hopes to amplify the voices and stories of underrepresented communities, beginning with Black women.

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