Did you know that the official 2016 presidential election did not happen on November 8th; that Donald Trump hasn’t been elected yet and might not be; that the real election happens on Monday December 19th; that the result is up to only 538 people; and that Hillary Clinton might still become our next President?
Now, I’m not going to panic about this situation. I’m confident that Trump will be elected on Monday by more than the required 270 electoral votes. But I’m afraid that someday, unless it is fixed, our constitutional Electoral College procedure could conceivably turn into an electoral horror picture show which might lead to another civil war.
Even now certain elements in the Democrat Party are fervently attempting to influence the 538 electors to deprive Trump of the presidency and give it to Hillary Clinton. If they are successful that would result in a constitutional crisis and violence in the streets.
You see, right now there are no federal constitutional provisions for a general presidential election like the one we had on November 8th. That’s why, even though he handily won that election, he hasn’t officially been elected yet. Article 2 and the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution set forth the official procedure for electing the President and Vice President.
Art 2.1 The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Art 2.2 Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…
So, our presidents are not officially chosen by the people in a general election, but by 538 Electors chosen by the legislators of each of the 50 states. Each individual state determines how their Electors are chosen. The states are not required to choose Electors based on the results of any general election. However, most states have a winner-take-all system in which the candidate with the most votes in the state general election gets all the electoral votes and the Electors are chosen by the winning candidate’s political party.
It is generally understood by the voters and the Electors themselves that they are merely the representative stand-ins for the candidates and are expected to cast their Electoral College ballots for the President and Vice President who appeared on the ballot.
But sometimes electors go rouge and refuse to vote for the designated candidate. Many states have laws requiring electors to toe the line but the constitutionality of such laws is presently uncertain.
This leaves a window wide open for the kind electoral mischief which could lead to constitutional chaos.
The Twelfth Amendment amended Art 2.3 of the Constitution. It sets forth the voting procedure the Electors are to follow in each state to elect the President and Vice President, and to transmit their results to the President of the U.S. Senate. The problem is that there is no federal constitutional requirement that the Elector vote for the candidate who received the most votes in the state’s general election. So each Elector can theoretically vote for whoever he or she desires.
The President of the U.S. Senate shall, on January 6, 2016, in the presence of the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted. If no candidate has a majority then the U.S. House of Representatives chooses the President by vote from among the list of candidates; a representative from each state having one vote. The Vice President is chosen in similar fashion.
I support the Electoral College as mandated by our federal Constitution; however, I think that the provisions should be amended once again to specify clearly and unambiguously that each Elector is bound to vote for the candidate who received the most popular votes in his or her states general election.
I want to foreclose any possibility in the future of an Electoral horror picture show.