On December 19, electors across the country will head to their state capitols to formally cast votes for president and vice president.
In Texas, 38 electors — one from each congressional district and two chosen in a statewide vote — will gather in Austin, and almost all of them will cast their ballots for President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President–elect Mike Pence. The exception is likely to be Christopher Suprun, who argues that “electors should unify behind a Republican alternative, an honorable and qualified man or woman such as Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.”
Never mind that Kasich has said he doesn’t want any electors to vote for him, declaring that “this approach, as well meaning as it is, will only serve to further divide our nation when unity is what we need.”
Suprun is not the only faithless elector nationwide. In Colorado, four of the state’s nine Democratic electors are saying that they might not cast votes for Hillary Clinton, who actually won the state, if there’s sufficient support for a non-Trump Republican option. In Washington state, three of the twelve Democratic electors are pledging to write in an as yet unspecified“alternative Republican.”
Little official punishment will be dealt to these faithless electors. Texas does not have a law requiring electors to vote for the candidate who won their state. Colorado has one, and the rebellious electors in that state filed a lawsuit challenging it. Washington can fine its faithless electors $1,000 each.
The strategy of the Democratic electors is particularly bizarre; they must know that there is almost no chance they’ll persuade another 35 Republican presidential electors to oppose Trump. And even if they did succeed, the election would go to the Republican-controlled House, which would in all likelihood choose Trump as president, and the Republican-controlled Senate, which would in all likelihood choose Mike Pence as vice president. The faithless electors’ stated method of protest will cost Clinton about seven electoral votes she rightfully earned, and change nothing in the long run.
Suprun is no fool, and his life’s work is commendable. He’s a paramedic who was among the first rescue workers to arrive at the Pentagon on 9/11. But he knew darn well when he campaigned for the job of being a presidential elector that he would probably be voting for Trump in December.
Why do we need these electors anyway? Why not just make the electoral vote automatic? Take the state total, divide up the states electoral votes as the state decides, and the proper state official notifies congress just like now.