About That Electoral College Petition

I am by no means a Donald Trump supporter. Count me among those who have serious concerns about his upcoming Presidency. However, I’m strongly of the opinion that the Change.Org petition to the Electors importing them to ignore their states’ votes and cast them for Hillary Clinton is at best a waste of time, and at worst an attempt to undermine the United States Constitution. I say this for two primary reasons.

  1. You Can’t Change The Rules After The Game Is Over.

    This February, Denver defeated Carolina 24-10 to win Super Bowl 50. However, by the end of the game Carolina had gained far more yards than Denver: 315 to 194. If I were to say “Carolina moved the ball much better than Denver; they gained 61.9% of the total yards in the game, so they should be declared the winner,” you’d rightly say that was unfair and crazy. Why? Because you don’t win a football game by gaining more yards; the winning team is the one that scores the most points. Likewise you don’t win a basketball game by getting the most slam dunks; the winning team is the team that scores the most points.

    And you don’t win a Presidential Election in the United States by getting the most popular votes; the winning candidate is the one that wins the most Electoral Votes. Claiming otherwise is asking us to ignore the United States Constitution.

    Hillary Clinton knew that going in. Donald Trump knew that going in. The Electoral College process is embedded in our Constitution. We don’t set aside the United States Constitution after the fact simply because an election didn’t work out the way some people wanted.

    If you don’t like the electoral college, starting a petition or writing your representative to attempt to get the rules changed for 2020 is appropriate; changing the rules after the fact for 2016 is not.

    One other line of thought on the “but she won the popular vote” line of thinking is this: it’s an irrelevant comparison because they weren’t competing for the popular vote, and both campaigns knew that. If basketball teams were competing for the most dunks, they’d use completely different strategies. If football teams were trying to gain the most yards, they’d use completely different strategies. And if Presidential candidates were completing for the most popular votes, they’d use completely different strategies, likely putting virtually all of their energy into large population centers like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Instead, they were going after Electoral Votes, and as such they focused most of their efforts in places like Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the Electoral Votes were in question. Had they been competing for the overall popular vote, both would have run radically different campaigns, and as such the voting would have not been the same. We simply don’t know what the results would have been in such a contest.

  2. The Electors From Trump States Aren’t Going To Change Their Minds

    The other key factor here worth noting is that even if the “popular vote” argument were a valid one, practically speaking, this is a waste of time. Electors are picked by each Party within their own states. In other words, the Ohio Republican Party submitted the Electors who would cast the votes if Donald Trump won that state, and likewise for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. In many cases (Ohio being one,) the Electors weren’t merely chosen by the Party, but by the Trump Campaign. In those instances, the State Party merely signs off on the names. It requires one to suspend all reasonable belief to think that Electors chosen by the Trump Campaign and/or the Republican Party are going to vote for Hillary Clinton against the wishes of the voters of their states.

I get it. You don’t want Donald Trump to be President. I don’t either. (I also don’t want Hillary Clinton to be President.) But that ship has sailed. He won by the rules that were in place. It’s too late to change them.

 

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