The 538 members of the Electoral College — one for each senator and representative from each state, plus the District of Columbia — are to convene on Dec. 19 to cast their ballots for the presidency.
Meanwhile, there are reports from across the country that those voters are being harassed and threatened with physical harm or death if they cast their votes for Donald Trump.
This does seem to belie one of the primary reasons the Founders chose to have the president selected by the Electoral College instead of by state legislatures or popular vote.
Alexander Hamilton put it this way in Federalist Paper No. 68:
It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.
It is interesting to read how the would-be disrupters cite a different passage from this same document to argue that electors should disavow the voters of their states:
The process of election affords a moral certainty, 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. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.
In their judgment Trump’s talents lie in low intrigue and arts of popularity. They may the right, but that’s not how the system works. For electors to abandon their duty would be tantamount to coup.
A Vox writer says Trump “the first unquestioned demagogue to become a major-party nominee in our country’s history. On his quest to the general election, he stoked prejudices and passions to flout fundamental constitutional norms, such as our freedoms of the press, religion, and peaceful assembly.”
He then points out that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote now by over 2 million votes, which is irrelevant.
Now, who is stoking prejudices?
The online petition site Change.org has a petition that reads in part:
On December 19, the Electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots. If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, in 14 of the states in Trump’s column, they can vote for Hillary Clinton without any legal penalty if they choose.
We are calling on the 149 Electors in those states to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why?
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.
Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.
Hillary won the popular vote. The only reason Trump “won” is because of the Electoral College.
But the Electoral College can actually give the White House to either candidate. So why not use this most undemocratic of our institutions to ensure a democratic result?
Use an undemocratic institution to impose a democratic result? Talk about twisted logic. If the shoe were were on the other foot, they’d be screaming bloody murder. These people are all about getting their way and the means be damned.
Besides, the U.S. is a republic, not a mobocracy.