What To Expect Today From The Electoral College

Beginning late this morning, the Electors in each of the states will meet to carry out their Constitutional function. Despite the drama accompanying this year's election, there's likely to be far less drama than some people seem to be hoping for.

ec 2016

Today beginning around 10:00am Eastern time, the members of the Electoral College for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia will meet to cast their ballots for President and Vice-President of the United States. In past years, of course, this been a largely ceremonial and routine process, with the Electoral College members basically mirroring what was projected on the night of the election. As Steven Taylor has cataloged here multiple times over the past several weeks, though, this year has been quite different. The fact that we’re once again faced with the rare outcome of an Electoral College winner who did not win the popular vote and that the winner of the Presidential election as dictated by the Constitution was a man like Donald Trump, there has been unprecedented pressure on members of the Electoral College to change their vote in one final effort to stop Trump. In some cases, this has consisted of an outright appeal to ostensibly Republican Electors to back Hillary Clinton, something which seems very unlikely to happen. In other cases, the appeal has been to vote for some other candidate or abstain from voting in the hope that Trump would be denied a sufficient number of Electoral Votes that he would not have a majority and the election would be thrown into the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The campaign has included appeals by celebrities and by a group calling itself “Hamilton Electors” that appears to consist mostly of Hillary Clinton supporters, much baseless speculation from a media that has little else to talk about as Christmas approaches and we enter the traditional end-of-the-year slow news period, and wishful thinking from people who really don’t know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, it has also included measures that don’t belong in any election year, such as harassment and even death threats aimed at Republican Electors across the country.

CBS News gives a preview of what to expect:

Across the U.S. Monday, every state’s winning slate of electors will gather in person in the state capitals to cast their votes for president and vice president. Despite the efforts of some Democrats to pressure Republican electors to change their votes, there is no indication that they will have much of an impact.

The Associated Press tried to reach all 538 electors and interviewed more than 330 of them. It found “widespread Democratic aggravation with the electoral process but little expectation that the hustle of anti-Trump maneuvering can derail him.” Three dozen GOP electors would have to switch their votes, and so far, only one has said he would.

Barring a major number of these so-called “faithless electors” — those electors who do not vote in accordance with the outcome of their states — Donald Trump is expected to hit the electoral majority of 270 electoral votes some time in the 3 p.m. ET hour Monday.

Throughout the day Monday — the timing of the Electoral College meeting varies by state — electors will cast their votes, which will be sent on to the nation’s capital by late December.

Then, on the afternoon of Jan. 6, Vice President Joe Biden will open the electoral votes before a joint session of the new Congress, where they will be counted.

The schedule for when each state will be meeting today is embedded below. As noted, there will be livestreams of the proceedings from some states, but it’s not indicated how you can access that stream. (If I can find information for individual states, I’ll post it in an update below.) Additionally, for those states that do allow cameras into the proceedings for the count of their Electoral Votes, I would imagine that one or all of the cable news networks will carry it either live or on tape delay. C-SPAN will also have live coverage of the proceedings, including presumably live coverage of those states that will have livestreams of their proceedings beginning at 10:50am Eastern time today, and you should be able to watch that either on television over over the Internet if you’re interested in seeing how that procedure unfolds. This is actually the first time I can remember the Electoral College vote being conducted live in this manner, so it should be interesting to watch even notwithstanding the fact that this year’s vote has become enveloped in controversy.

As my OTB colleague has demonstrated quite clearly on the many occasions he’s written about this the odds that enough Faithless Electors would defect from Trump to either support Clinton or throw the vote to the House is somewhere between slim and none. In order to deny Trump a majority, for example, there would need to be 37 faithless electors willing to go against the will of the voters in their respective states. To hand the election to Clinton outright, it would require 38 Republican Electors to change their vote from Trump to Clinton. While there have been faithless electors in Presidential Elections throughout American history, in the modern era a single election has only seen very small numbers of such electors who cast their ballot in a way other than the one dictated by the outcome of the vote in their state. During the 19th Century, there were occasions where there were large numbers of such electors, but that usually happened in extraordinary cases such as the Election of 1896 when Electors pledged to William Jennings Bryan as Democrats voted for him on the Populist Party line instead, or the Election of 1872 when Democratic nominee Horace Greeley, who had lost the election to Ulysses Grant, died before the Electoral College met and many of the electors pledged to him refused to vote for a dead man out of principle. In no case in the two-century history of the United States, though, has there ever been a case where faithless electors ended up resulting in the election of a candidate other than the one who should have won based on the results from Election Day. (Source) And it’s not going to happen in 2016 either.

In the end, I expect we may well see a handful of Republican Electors who vote for someone other than Trump, or don’t vote at all, as a form of protest. In the end, though, it won’t be a large enough number to really be noticeable or worth paying attention to. My guess is that we’ll see no more than two or three defectors nationwide, perhaps a few more, and that Trump will end the day with at least 300 Electoral Votes, which would mean that he’ll lose no more than six electors. After today’s vote, each state sends their results to Congress where they will be counted in a special joint session of Congress on January 6th, 2017. After this, the outcome of the 2016 election will be official, and Donald Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th.

Here’s a schedule of today’s events:

Electoral College Voting Schedule by CBS News Politics on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    I don’t expect them to not elect Trump…and I can’t imagine the civil war that would ensue if they did.
    But I would really appreciate it if a handful of them voted for the good of their country…just to send a message…flaccid as that message might be.
    Trumps behavior since the election has done nothing to assuage my fear for the future of the Republic. We now live in Trumpistan…the unthinkable is the new normal.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    I don’t expect any drama whatsoever, but …

    It would be fantastic if something really disruptive happened an hour prior to the formal vote – something like a disclosure that Trump knew that Putin and Assange were going to leak damaging emails.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    A useless institution goes through the motions.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Here’s something off-topic and awesome; according to the WSJ, counties that voted for Dumb-Don benefit the most from Obamacare.
    I’ve always assumed you would have to be stupid to vote for Trump. This pretty much proves it.

  5. grumpy realist says:
  6. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Multiple sources are confirming that he was assassinated.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Krugman estimates five million Trump supporters are on Obamacare one way or another and just voted to make their own lives

    nastier, more brutish, and shorter.

  8. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    Isn’t Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short the law firm Trump has on retainer?

  9. rodney dill says:

    @CSK: I thought it was Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe

  10. James in Bremerton says:

    Let the GOP have it all. Let Trump nominate every theocratic oligarch with delusions of grandeur. The Democrats can barely stop them. The GOP owns it all, now.

    The last time around, 2000 – 2004, they would have been thrown out but not for 9/11. They should have been tossed out for letting that happen. By 2008, it was clear none of their ideas are compatible with even the most conservative democratic republic. They cashed out trillions in wealth, leaving the country in shambles. And this was against the bulwark of “adult Republicans,” to which Bush had access, and was himself of a piece.

    Why is there any expectation, given the emotional age of all the GOP players, that the country won’t be returned to the ditch? It’s clear that is the outcome many of his supporters prefer, anything to get back at “them libruls” or whatever mean step-sister said mean things about them.

    For now, the children rule.

  11. Pch101 says:

    @James in Bremerton:

    The GOP owns it all, now.

    The GOP never takes any responsibility for anything.

    The Republicans will blame liberals for whatever goes wrong. They love to talk about personal responsibility, but never accept any for themselves.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08:

    Krugman estimates five million Trump supporters are on Obamacare one way or another and just voted to make their own lives…

    I don’t get the surprise here. Sure, there are some in these districts who voted for Trump and will hurt themselves. But there are many, many millions in these poorer districts who work hard and resent it when they see relatives and friends of friends who have made bad choices and are on disability or other government assistance and are not working, not taking responsibility for their lives. Why is everyone so surprised that living in a poorer area makes many more resentful of others “getting something for nothing”? I’m pretty darn progressive and think these programs are important but this obligation to pretend the poor are all hard working and noble irritates me. There are just as many *sshole poor people as there are rich ones or middle class ones. And it seems perfectly reasonable that people who are working but struggling are attracted to someone who is willing to “tell it like it is”.

  13. Scott says:

    Look at that map of the US. The newest Red Scare.

  14. al-Alameda says:

    @gVOR08:

    Krugman estimates five million Trump supporters are on Obamacare one way or another and just voted to make their own lives nastier, more brutish, and shorter.

    These are the same people who want the federal government to stay away from Social Security and Medicare. We’re dealing with extreme cognitive dissonance.

    Facts are completely lost on these people: I have a brother who for years has complained that social security will not be there when he retires, I have explained to him that even if nothing is done to readjust the system,.the system is solvent until 2035. If Republicans have the will, as they did during the Reagan years, the system can be made set for another 40-50 years. He insisted that that is not true, because that is not what he’s hearing. Guess what he listens to when it’s not sports? Yes, Fox News and the usual conservative radio opinionista.

  15. Rick Zhang says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Can’t believe this comment isn’t upvoted more. This fundamental truth was how southern plantation masters kept working class whites and black slaves at each other’s throats. To preserve the power of capital with a minority, the majority working class must be divided by cultural or social issues. Such is the case in rural America today, where unskilled and unemployed are pitted against unskilled and tenuously employed in a bitter struggle. Those working hard and barely getting by are stirred up against their peers who are welfare queens benefiting from undeserved government support.

  16. Carol says:
  17. Carol says:

    @michael reynolds: It is not a useless motion. The votes are done in November by the citizens and without the EC, my vote would not even matter if we went by population alone. California, a heavily populated state would override many of the smaller states with less population. The EC basically gives each state the same balance as to their people in Congress, Senate and House. Each state is guaranteed 2 electoral votes to match their 2 in the senate and then for whatever amount of people in the House, they get one vote there for each one. The EC is the legal signatures to represent each state and the amount of people they have in Washington. This is why the EC votes should match the desire of the people per state and how the majority in that state voted.

  18. al-Alameda says:

    @Carol:

    The EC basically gives each state the same balance as to their people in Congress, Senate and House. Each state is guaranteed 2 electoral votes to match their 2 in the senate and then for whatever amount of people in the House, they get one vote there for each one.

    The 2 electors allocated to each state (their senators) is/are what gives a state like Wyoming for example, very disproportionate representation relative to their population. Wyoming has 1 elector per 195,000 citizens, and California has 1 elector per 700,000 citizens.

    That’s just the way it is.

  19. bill says:

    i expect a bunch of lame unemployable’s, college kids, teachers and assorted union thugs to stand around and perform random acts of idiocy for the adoring cameras…..then hillary loses again.
    and the world just feels so much better.

  20. CSK says:

    Four Washington state electors voted against Clinton: three for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Carol: @al-Alameda: I was curious enough to waste an hour or so collecting the data and doing a spreadsheet. Turned out that if it were still winner take all in each state, but electoral vote strictly proportional to population, It would have made no difference this year. Trump would win 56.3/43.7. As is, Trump wins the EC 56.9/43.1. Apparently the small NE states more or less balance the small western states and there are a lot of wasted popular votes in CA and NY.

    But small states do have disproportionate representation, and they may not always balance out. Historically, the driver wasn’t really to protect small states, but to protect slave states, who got extra electors representing slaves, who could not vote, but counted as 3/5 of a person each for apportioning Representatives. A rotten bargain, justified only by the necessity of getting the Constitution ratified. Regional differences don’t really amount to much anymore. Hard to see why we should maintain an advantage for small states.The Founders thought constant changes to the Constitution would work these things out. Maybe it’s time to try.

  22. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: So to put that in context, 100% more faithless electors voted against Hillary in one state alone than voted against Trump in the entire United States. Hamiltonian Electors! Goooooooo Team Blue!

  23. al-Alameda says:

    @gVOR08:
    You’re right.
    I’ve often wondered if now is the time to reduce by one, one of the 2 electors associated with the Senate seats? It would be a start in the direction of reducing the influence of the less populated states. Thing is, Hillary lost Ohio, PA and Wisconsin, so it’s clear to me that any reform I’ve heard bandied about would have prevented this dumpster fire.

  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Carol:

    The EC basically gives each state the same balance as to their people in Congress, Senate and House.

    No, what it does is make some votes (say those in Wyoming) count for far more than they rationally should, while making other votes (say those in California) count for far less than they should.

    In the example I gave, a vote in Wyoming counts roughly 3.62 times as much as a vote in California with respect to electing the president.

    If the only way you can win is to make some votes count more than others, or you actually believe / have somehow convinced yourself that your vote even should count more than someone else’s, then you have bigger problems than having elected a moron.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Carol:

    California, a heavily populated state would override many of the smaller states with less population.

    What gets me about this sort of argument (which I’ve been hearing a lot lately) is that it makes it sound like a national popular vote would be conferring some kind of privilege on California. In fact, all it would be doing is moving the US toward the one-person, one-vote model enjoyed in most democracies, including other presidential-federalist systems like Mexico or Brazil. The only sense in which Cali would be overriding other states is the sense in which more voters override fewer voters–in other words, what most people have in mind when they say election.

    EC defenders seem to think magnifying the power of small states is some kind of egalitarian ideal, as if the residents of those states are minorities deserving of protection by virtue of their happening to live in less densely populated areas.

    Of course, nobody argues that we should create such a system where it doesn’t exist. For example, we could use the same logic to elect governors using a sort of mini-EC in each state in which every city is given electoral votes so that a town of 500 people is given disproportionate power compared with places like Detroit or Chicago. The towns would love it, of course, but nobody’s clamoring for such a system because everyone knows it would make no sense. People defend the EC mostly because it’s there, and they come up with after-the-fact justifications that nobody would use if creating the system from scratch.