Following Donald Trump’s win, Hillary Clinton’s supporters are not giving in – they have launched an online petition calling upon the Electoral College to vote for Clinton instead of Trump.
This Tuesday’s vote in the US Presidential election determined the electors in the Electoral College. On December 19 these electors will in turn cast the votes to legally elect the US president. Their vote, however, is extremely unlikely to change the results, being a purely a ceremonial occasion.
Clinton’s supporters in their petition on change.org are not losing hope though – they are calling on the electors “to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for [former] 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,” the petition states. “There is no reason Trump should be President. It’s the ‘People’s Will’”
Around 3.3 million people have signed the petition so far.
Winning the popular vote was a bitter consolation prize for Clinton, as overall victory is based on the 538 members of the Electoral College, each of whom represent a state or the District of Columbia based on population.
The number of electoral voters a state gets is equal to its representation in Congress, with a minimum of three (Delaware, DC, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming) and the highest currently being 55 (California). The winning candidate must receive at least 270 votes in the Electoral College. With Michigan (16) and New Hampshire (4) still outstanding, Trump has 290 electoral votes and Clinton only 218.
“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?” the petition states.
The authors of the petition acknowledge that if electors “vote against their party, they usually pay a fine.”
“But they can vote however they want and there is no legal means to stop them in most states,” it adds.
When he is sworn into office, President-elect Donald Trump will become the fourth commander-in-chief in US history to win in the Electoral College vote while losing the popular vote.
George W. Bush did the same in the controversial 2000 election. It also happened twice in 12 years in the 1800s: Rutherford B. Hayes won in 1876, and Benjamin Harrison in 1888. Hayes suffered the biggest loss in the popular vote, losing by 3 percentage points to Southern Democrat Samuel Tilden. Trump came in second by 1.2 percent. Both Bush and Harrison lost by less than a percent to Vice President Al Gore and incumbent President Grover Cleveland respectively, according to Dave Leip’s Atlas of US Presidents.
There was only one other time that a president entered the White House without winning the popular vote, and that was in 1824, due to a four-way race that did not produce a winner in the Electoral College, forcing the House of Representatives to decide, in accordance with the 12th Amendment. The House elected John Quincy Adams as president. At that point in time, candidates did not run as a combined presidential and vice presidential ticket, and John C. Calhoun won the vice presidency outright.