With the body poised to confirm Donald Trump as the next US president on Monday, a handful of faithless electors explain why theyre putting up a fight
On Monday, the 538 members of the electoral college will gather in state capitols across the country to cast their votes for the next president of the United States. With 306 electoral college votes under his belt to Hillary Clintons 232, that person will almost certainly be Donald Trump.
The iota of doubt that remains comes from an unprecedented eruption of discontent from electors, the body of 538 people chosen by the two main political parties to cast the electoral college vote. Under the peculiarities of the American system, the president is not chosen directly by a one person-one vote policy: indeed, Clinton won the popular vote on 8 November by some 2.9m ballots.
Instead, it is the indirect electoral college vote, parceled out by a complicated formula and awarded to the candidate who won each state, that is the final arbiter of who occupies the White House. This year, at least eight of the 538 have indicated that they intend to break ranks with modern tradition and vote against their party in a protest directed squarely against Trump.
All but one of those rebels are Democratic, which is not coincidental. Many of these Democrats see the electoral college as the last-ditch hope of stopping Trump the idea being that if their example can encourage their Republican fellow electors to follow suit and rally around a compromise alternative candidate, the Trump presidency can yet be abated.
The chances of that are exceptionally slim. The only Republican rebel to come out so far is Christopher Suprun, an elector from Texas. On the Republican side, nobody knows the extent, if any, of a potential uprising by electors beyond him. A survey by Associated Press found little enthusiasm among Republican electors for joining the rebellion.
Yet the Harvard law professor Larry Lessig said this week that at least 20 Republican electors were seriously considering defecting. No names of that elusive 20 have emerged and no one knows how many will actually carry through with the protest by voting for an alternative Republican to Trump.
All that we do know is that 2016 will go down in the history books as a seismic year for the electoral college. Here, six of the so-called faithless electors who intend to rebel on Monday explain in their own words what is driving their historic action.