Anti-Trump forces are preparing an unprecedented assault on the Electoral College, marked by a wave of lawsuits and an intensive lobbying effort aimed at persuading 37 Republican electors to vote for a candidate other than Donald Trump. It’s a bracing stress-test for an institution that Alexander Hamilton envisioned as a safeguard against popular whims, and a direct challenge to the role that the Electoral College has evolved to play in picking the president: constitutional rubber stamp. Behind the overt anti-Trump push is a covert agenda: If the courts establish that individual electors can switch allegiances, supporting candidates other than those who win their states, it would inject so much uncertainty into the process that states may be willing to junk the Electoral College in favor of a popular-vote winner. “There might well be a clamor to get rid of the Electoral College altogether, a move that would have some disadvantages (like eliminating Hamilton’s safeguard) but many advantages as well,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University. “Anyhow, clamor and anger have become par for the course in this loony election year.”
Leaders of the effort, mainly Democrats, have plans to challenge laws in the 29 states that force electors to support their party’s candidate. Those laws have never been tested, leaving some constitutional experts to argue they’re in conflict with the founders’ intention to establish a body that can evaluate the fitness of candidates for office and vote accordingly.
Several sources involved with the legal planning also confirmed that they’re preparing to roll out a coalition of lawyers prepared to defend, pro bono, any electors who vote in opposition to their party’s candidate on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets this year to cast the official vote for president.
Those efforts are parallel to a drive by at least eight Democratic electors in Colorado and Washington state who are lobbying their GOP counterparts to reject their oaths — and in some cases, state law — to oppose Trump when it comes time to cast their votes.