On Monday, Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta informed the media that the campaign supported the effort of electoral college members to receive a briefing about the alleged role of Russia in influencing the 2016 presidential election. Podesta's comment followed an open letter from 10 of the 538 electors published on Medium requesting a such a briefing.
None of this is likely to change the electoral math. Last week, we outlined how tough it would be for Donald Trump to fail to win the electoral vote, especially since so many of the Republican electors are also GOP officials. Incidentally, nine of the 10 people signing the letter above are Clinton electors (including Nancy Pelosi's daughter). The one Trump elector is Chris Suprun, discussed below.
In two weeks, Donald Trump will officially become the president-elect, after the 538 members of the electoral college cast their votes. That's how this whole dumb process works: We spend two years watching 20-odd people fight it out, only to have the ultimate decision come down to 538 random people representing each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Founding Fathers figured the electoral college was the way to go, and so that was the way it went.
Fans of Trump are also big fans of the electoral college. After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes, the sort of margin that usually propels someone to the White House. But Trump got 80,000 combined votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that put him over the top in those three states, and that was enough to put him over the top in the electoral vote, too.
Fans of Clinton, though, aren't all opposed to the electoral college. There's a strain of thought that the reason the Founding Fathers created the electoral college in the first place is that, if someone patently unqualified were the pick of the population, the electoral college could override that vote. Many supporters of Clinton think that Trump is patently unqualified and, therefore, hope the electoral college will pick someone besides Trump when it votes on Dec. 19. Someone like, oh, I don't know, Hillary Clinton.
To that end, Trump opponents have bombarded electors with messages begging them to reject Trump's candidacy. Letters, emails, public pleas, organized persuasion campaigns. To the electors, it's often annoying. To the people hoping to halt Trump, it's all they've got.
On Monday, the first tiny crack: The New York Times published an essay from an elector from Texas, announcing that he would not cast his vote for Trump. Christopher Suprun, who had been sort of iffy on where his loyalties were for some time, announced that he simply couldn't support the Republican for the presidency.
One down. Far too many to go.
In theory, it sounds possible to change the minds of 38 people — or 37, if you think that the House would resolve a tie not in Trump's favor. In practice, though, it's proven nearly impossible.
Essentially, those hoping to flip the election in the electoral college need to reverse every elector from the state of Texas. Not literally — but it's the same total number of delegates. Suprun is one. There are a lot to go.
Three other electors have balked at endorsing Trump.
There was Jane Lynch in Arizona, who at one point theorized that she might back a third-party candidate if Trump won. She confirmed her commitment to Trump after the election.
There was Art Sisneros in Texas and Baoky Vu in Georgia, both of whom decided to resign their positions instead of voting for Trump. Vu has already been replaced as an elector. Sisneros will be replaced when the electoral college voters meet on the 19th.
So much for that rebellion.
Electors are often bound by state law to vote for the winner of the state, but that's not necessarily the case. In Maine, electoral votes are split by congressional district. (That's the one red square next to the yellow Suprun vote on the chart above. Trump won a Maine district.) If electors even in states that were legally required to vote for the state's winner wanted to vote for someone else, it's not clear that the law would hold up constitutionally.
Doesn't matter though. The month-old effort to flip electoral votes has resulted in one flipped vote. There are two weeks until the electoral college votes, and no indicator anyone else is wavering.
Besides, if the electoral college did flip the result, we can be pretty confident that Trump supporters wouldn't take it lightly. One man's protection of the Republic is another's insurrection.