What to Know About Monday's Electoral College Vote

Votes are tallied at Jan. 6 joint session of Congress
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2016 5:02 AM CST
Updated Dec 19, 2016 5:32 AM CST
Here's What to Know About Monday's Electoral College Vote
Sportswear bearing the name of a college that doesn't exist: the Electoral College.   (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, File)

Donald Trump will be officially elected president of the United States on Monday unless the Electoral College does something unprecedented—and leaves him "unpresidented." Some 538 electors will meet across the country and 306 of them are supposed to vote for Trump, reflecting the election outcomes in their states, though there has been a strong movement calling for them to deny Trump the presidency—and for the electors supposed to vote for Hillary Clinton to instead vote for a more acceptable Republican. It would take 38 GOP rebels to keep Trump out of the White House, which is an outcome seen as extremely unlikely. Most of the voting will take place in state capitols, where protests are expected. A round-up of coverage:

  • Republican electors say they have received thousands of letters and emails pleading with them to vote against Trump, the AP reports. "The letters are actually quite sad," says Lee Green, a Republican elector from North Carolina. "They are generally freaked out. They honestly believe the propaganda. They believe our nation is being taken over by a dark and malevolent force."

  • Insiders in battleground states tell Politico that while it will be interesting to see how many electors decide to defy election results, there is almost no chance it will change the final outcome. Most of the 160 Republicans and Democrats surveyed believe there will be 10 or fewer faithless electors; just one thought there would be more than 37.
  • The New York Times takes a look at how the electoral college works, and at whether faithless electors will be punished if they vote against the election results. The Times notes that electors can be party officials or people with a connection to a candidate: Bill Clinton is among this year's New York electors.
  • NPR looks at what happens next: The states submit a Certificate of Vote to the Federal Register, listing the votes for president and vice president. The votes will be tallied at a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, which will be presided over by Joe Biden. When a candidate gets to 270 votes, they will be declared the next president—and if that candidate isn't Trump, expect chaos. If no one gets a majority, choosing a president will be up to the House of Representatives.
  • While the vote won't be officially counted until Jan. 6, Mic reports that we should know the outcome before then: It notes the AP produced the results at 6pm ET on voting day in 2012 (though that year was a little "less contentious"), and that the Office of the Federal Register website will publish verified votes as they're received. Newser incorrectly originally reported that the results wouldn't be known until 2017; the distinction is that the "official" results come then.
  • Politico reports that while rogue electors may not change the outcome, there may be enough of them to change the Electoral College system. The "Hamilton electors," who argue that voting with their conscience is what the Founding Fathers had in mind, could cause laws in 29 states banning faithless electors to be tested, or could add weight to calls for the system to be replaced with one where the winner of the popular votes becomes president.
Here's why this 9/11 firefighter and Texas elector isn't voting for Trump. (More electoral college stories.)

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