Washington state elector in 'Hail Mary' bid to unseat Trump | KUOW News and Information

Washington state elector in 'Hail Mary' bid to unseat Trump

Nov 15, 2016

Thousands of Americans have protested the Trump presidency. But the election isn't completely over.

There are still 538 electors in the electoral colleges who will cast their votes on December 19th. 

Three Democratic Washington state electors are trying to change the outcome of that vote by convincing Republican electors NOT to vote for Donald Trump. 

One of them is Bret Chiafalo.

Chiafalo and two other Democratic electors are trying to persuade Republican members of the electoral college to vote for a more moderate Republican candidate, someone like Mitt Romney or John Kasich. 

"They have the constitutional right to vote for who they want," Chiafalo said. "We would just hope that they would put the election to the House and give this country a chance not to be as divided as it will be under a Trump presidency."  

"There's definitely Republican electors who have concerns about Trump."

  Chiafalo and his fellow electors need 37 Republican electors to abandon Trump to stop him from getting the majority of electoral college votes. That would send the election to the House of Representatives. 

The House would then choose between the top three electoral college vote-getters, Chiafalo said. He hopes Republicans would organize to make sure a more moderate Republican, like Romney or Kasich, would be in the top three.

Chiafalo said the goal is to keep Trump out of the White House. 

After reaching out to several Republican electors on social media and over the phone, Chiafalo believes some might be on board with the idea.  

"Trump is not their favorite person," he said. "I'm not saying they've said at all that they're going to not vote for him, but I get a feeling from a few of them that there's definitely Republican electors who have concerns about Trump."

Electors are supposed to vote according to the popular vote in their area. The penalty for electors voting their conscience instead varies from state to state, but Chiafalo said most constitutional lawyers and scholars agree that electors are essentially free agents. 

"They were designed to be able to vote for whoever they thought was best," Chiafalo said. "It's an undemocratic system, but it's the one that exists under the Constitution." 

Chiafalo acknowledged the odds of succeeding with this plan are slim.

"It's a Hail Mary," he said. But it's better than doing nothing. 

"We believe we couldn't sleep at night if we didn't try to do something about Donald Trump being president; something legal, something moral, something ethical, something under the Constitution."

Chiafalo and his fellow electors have until Dec. 19 to try to convince 37 Republicans to get on board with their plan.