Monday, 19 December 2016

538 electors choose between Trump, Clinton today

Six weeks after the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, the battle
for the White House is yet to be over as the 538 electors
formally cast their votes for either Democratic Hillary Clinton or
Republican Donald Trump on Monday.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that although,
technically the President-elect Trump won the electoral college
on Nov. 9, officially, he has not been voted for.

Under the US Constitution, the real presidential election takes
place on Dec. 19, when electors meet in the 50 state capitals
and Washington, D.C. to cast their ballots.

To be elected a president, therefore, a candidate must score
270 Electoral College votes, representing 50 per cent plus one
vote or a simple majority vote.

As the electors prepare to vote on Monday, there are reports
that many Republican electoral college members have been
besieged by phone calls and e-mails to vote against Trump.

Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, by a margin of close to
three million but not the electoral vote and controversies about
Trump have generated unusual interest in the electoral college.

Trump needs 270 electoral votes on Monday to claim White
House and his victory in various states in the Nov. 8 election
put him in line to get 306 of the 538 electoral college votes as
against Clinton who had 232.

NAN reports that Clinton’s almost three million over Trump’s,
made him the most unpopular president-elect since 1876 and
heightening the tension in recent weeks.

Already 18 notable U.S. actors and other artists have urged
Republican electors to “go down in the books as American
heroes” by not voting for Trump.

One elector has resigned, another said he would not vote while
electors in three states went to court seeking authority to vote
as they please.

The Republican elector from Texas, Art Sisneros, resigned,
saying a vote for Trump “would bring dishonour to God”.
Christopher Suprun, a Texas elector, said he would not vote for
Trump, who won his state’s election.

“Donald Trump lacks the foreign policy experience and
demeanour needed to be commander in-chief,” he said.

In California, a Federal Judge scheduled a hearing on a similar
request from an elector, Vinzenz Koller, who said he could not
vote for Clinton.

Courts in Colorado and Washington have rejected  pleas from
electors to be released from requirements to vote as their
states did, although the electors in Colorado appealed the
lower court ruling.

The state Supreme Court will have until noon on Monday, when
electors cast their ballots, to decide.

On Sunday, John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman,
suggested that 37 electoral voters bound to Trump could
defect, which would be enough to create at least a tie and send
the votes to the House to decide.

Podesta predicated his argument on glaring allegations that
Russians hacking the emails of Democrats during the election
led in part to Clinton’s loss.

He also argued that members of the Electoral College should
have an intelligence briefing about the hackings before voting
on Monday.

“I assume that our electors are going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

“But the question is whether there are 37 Republican electors
who think that either there are open questions about the
purported Russian hackings or that Donald Trump is really unfit
to be president and I guess we will know that tomorrow.”

However, Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National
Committee, said in spite of the mounting pressures on the
electors to vote against Trump “we expect everything to fall in

Priebus, however, confirmed “the only known and so-called
‘faithless’ balloter, who lives in Texas and whose vote goes to
Trump but plans to vote for another, yet-to-be-named

“But other than that, we’re very confident that everything is
going to be very smooth,” he said.

Priebus, however, noted “a massive petition drive to get
electoral voters to cast ballots against Trump and the alleged
harassment of some of the voters, particularly in Arizona,
where Trump won 49 per cent of the vote, compared to 45
percent for Clinton, which entitles him to all 11 electoral

There is no U.S. Federal law on electoral votes while the
penalties for violations are minor, such as being disqualified
from future balloting, but some states bind their voters to the
popular vote.

A total of 29 states have laws that bind the electors, requiring
them to cast their votes for whichever candidate won that
state’s popular vote but the laws are weak, providing only
nominal penalties.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1952 that states do not violate the
Constitution when they require electors to pledge that they will
abide by the popular vote but the justices have never said
whether it is constitutional to enforce those pledges. (NAN)

The Nation

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