A Glimpse at How the Electoral College Will Meet on Monday (Video)
On Monday, 538 presidential electors—the members of the Electoral College—will meet in statehouses around the country to determine who will be the next U.S. president. The meetings are traditionally little more than a formality. But this year, when the reality-TV star and president-elect Donald Trump received nearly 3 million votes fewer than Democrat Hillary Clinton, many in the public have called on the electors to abandon tradition and vote for someone else.
ABOVE: Polly Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado, tells “Democracy Now!” that she and her colleagues have a duty to prevent “unqualified demagogues” and individuals susceptible to foreign influence from taking the presidency.
The New York Times provides a glimpse of the process.
Who are the electors?
In short, the electors are people chosen by their state political parties to cast votes for president and vice president. Electors can be state party leaders or elected officials; sometimes they are individuals with a personal connection to a presidential candidate. Bill Clinton, for instance, is a New York elector this year.
The number of electors each state has is equal to its number of representatives and senators in Congress — 538 in total, with those extra three electors coming from the District of Columbia.
What happens when the electors go to vote?
Electors will meet in their states, typically at the capitol, where they will cast two votes: one for president and one for vice president.
They will then prepare what is called a “certificate of vote” with the results, which is then mailed or delivered via courier to the National Archives, where it becomes part of the nation’s official records, and to Congress.
Must they follow the popular vote of their states?
Not necessarily. At least one elector has said he will buck his party and not vote for Mr. Trump. Nothing in the Constitution, or in federal law, binds electors to vote a particular way. There are some state laws that bind them to vote according to the popular vote outcome in that state; others are bound by more informal pledges to their party.
Under some state laws, so-called faithless electors who vote against their state’s results may be fined or even disqualified and replaced. No elector has been prosecuted for doing so, but then again, almost every elector has voted with his or her state’s results in the past. The Supreme Court has not weighed in on whether pledges and the related penalties are constitutional.
And when the votes are cast, is that it?
Not quite. At that point, Mr. Biden will ask if there are any objections, and lawmakers can then challenge either individual electoral votes or state results as a whole. If an elector has chosen to vote against state results, that is the moment when lawmakers can petition to throw that vote out.
Objections must be in writing and signed by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate. If there are any objections, the House and Senate then immediately split up to consider them and have just two hours to decide whether they support the objection or not.
Both chambers will then reconvene and share their decisions; if both the House and the Senate agree with the objection, then they will throw out the votes in question. But Congress has never sustained an objection to an electoral vote in modern times.
After any and all objections have been resolved, the results are considered final. The next step is to swear in the winner on Jan. 20.
—Posted by Alexander Reed KellyWAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
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