It has been over three weeks since Republican candidate Donald Trump won with an unexpected victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency. The contentious billionaire’s ascent to the highest office in the land has—unsurprisingly, given this electoral year—not been without controversy and dissent.
Shortly after the results came in, a petition was posted on Change.org—a website dedicated to hosting petitions to encourage democratic change in a variety of areas—that seeks to address electors in many of the states that Trump won. The petition advocates for the electors, who will officially cast their votes for the next president on Dec. 19, to vote for Clinton, officially making her the president of the United States.
Central to the arguments laid out in the petition is the fact that Trump, although winning the Electoral College, did not win the popular vote. The petition argues that because Trump did not win the majority of votes, the electors should instead vote for Clinton.
The petition also goes on to outline that Trump is not fit to govern because of his proposed moral faults and failures. The article asserts that Trump’s “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.”
Although the petition has experienced huge online success by amassing nearly 4.7 million signatures, many have opined about the practicality of the petition and the cause. Could the petition actually change the outcome of the election and can the electors even change their votes?
The answer is, although possible, the chances of such an outcome is highly unlikely. One major problem is although the signature count is approaching 5 million, the number may be too small to merit notable and widespread attention.
In an election year that drew nearly 120 million voters to the polls it may seem odd that roughly 5 million or so signers of a petition should change the mind of the electors.
The situation is complicated further by the fact that the electors are selected, in most cases, due to their avowed loyalty to their own party. Added to this is the fact that only the electors of the party whose nominee won the popular vote of the state in question are allowed to vote in the electoral process. Since Trump won the popular vote in 30 out of 50 states, it would appear that he will still gain the majority of electoral votes.
Although unlikely, the appeal is still legally and constitutionally possible scholars say. Under the 12th Amendment electors are allowed to choose freely as to who they will vote for as president, and, although a few states have fines that punish “faithless electors,” most states have no restrictions on who electors can vote for.
For anyone interested in signing the petition, it is located on Change.org.