It’s a nice thought, though.
“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” Donald Trump tweeted four years ago after Mitt Romney lost to incumbent President Obama.
For once, I agree with him.
The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.
Hillary Clinton is the first presidential candidate since Al Gore in 2000 to win the popular vote but lose the election. In other words, the people voted for Hillary, but got stuck with Trump instead.
The electoral college is to blame. The body’s comprised of 538 electors—one per congressional district, plus two for the senate seats—who don’t cast their official votes until December 19th. Theoretically, some of them *could* be “faithless electors”?—?electors who vote against their states’ popular vote. And that would mean Hillary Clinton still has a chance at the presidency.
Unfortunately, the actual possibility of this happening is slim to none.
According to the nonprofit FairVote, there have only been 157 faithless electors in the history of the United States?—?accounting for just 1% of total electoral votes ever cast.
Unsurprisingly, there has never been an instance where faithless electors were able to sway the outcome of an election. But it came close in 2000. George W. Bush won the election by just five votes, meaning that had merely three electors flipped their fealty, Al Gore may have become our 43rd President.
Even if faithless voters—like Washington state’s Robert Satiacum, a Democrat, and Texas’ Chris Suprun—do manage to flip the election outcome this time around, they’d win only half the battle. As TIME notes, “What actually happens will likely depend on a patchwork of state laws and constitutional checks.” For example, being a faithless elector is illegal in 29 states; in some states, it results in a fine or a slap on the wrist; in others still, it’s totally fine (looking at you, Georgia and Texas).
And federal lawmakers have backup plans in the case of such events, all paved by the Constitution.
The odds are very much against Hillary. Some might call the thought of her as America’s next leader a pipe dream. But as President Barack Obama once said, “America is the young person who comes out of the shadows to demand the right to dream. That’s what America is about.”
Hey, dreams do come true…sometimes.