Although the presidential election was called for Donald Trump on the night of November 8, it’s not actually over until the 538 members of the Electoral College vote on December 19. In the weeks between now and then, two Democratic electors are hoping to convince their colleagues to select someone other than Trump for the presidency.
Michael Baca of Colorado and Bret Chiafalo of Washington state call themselves the Hamilton Electors, in a nod to Alexander Hamilton’s explanation of the Electoral College’s necessity. The founding father and first U.S. Treasury secretary once said that the body exists to ensure that “the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” By Baca and Chiafalo’s reckoning, it exists to prevent a Trump presidency.
“We’re trying to be that ‘break in case of emergency’ fire hose that’s gotten dusty over the last 200 years,” Chaifolo told me. “This is an emergency.”
In every other presidential election in history, the members of the Electoral College have voted in accordance with the popular vote in their respective states. Because Trump has more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton does—290 to her 232—his November haul should translate to a win in December’s election. But Baca and Chiafalo argue that this isn’t like every other election in history—and thus electors should feel empowered to break tradition.
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