Donald Trump’s choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president triggered favorable buzz throughout the Republican Party. Pence is a “standard issue” conservative — “one of us.” Trump was turning a corner — showing some discipline — getting serious.
Even with Pence chosen, “Never Trump” forces almost forced a roll-call floor vote on rules the first day of the convention. And even with the nomination in Trump’s hands, the fears driving “Never Trump” are still all too real.
Is there any alternative to a President Clinton?
Yes, there is! We the people can demand and organize an Electoral College Awakening. Here’s the plan:
In America, the president is not elected directly by voters, but rather by members of the Electoral College, who are chosen by voters in each state.
Although 29 states have laws requiring an oath from presidential electors vowing to cast their ballots for party nominees, only Minnesota and Michigan law throw out an elector’s vote if it isn’t for their party’s nominee. My research has found no example of a court changing the vote of a presidential elector.
But let’s set those 29 states aside for now. The remaining 21 states, with 232 electoral votes (270 are required to win) don’t have any law requiring electors to vote for a party’s nominees. These include big states like Texas (38 electoral votes), New York (29) and Pennsylvania (20). Let’s start with these states.
The plan is simple: recruit Republican electors in these states to pledge that: 1) they will not vote for Trump if elected, but 2) they will vote for Pence on the separate vice presidential ballot and 3) they will attend an Electoral College Awakening Convention after the November election — to try to agree on a third choice.
Democratic electors should be invited to join in with a “mirror image” pledge: Democratic electors won’t vote for Clinton, will vote for the Democratic vice presidential candidate and will attend the Electoral College Awakening Convention.
The goal is simple: prevent an Electoral College majority for Clinton or Trump.
Here’s what happens next:
First — the vice presidential election would work normally. The ticket that prevailed in enough states to produce an Electoral College majority would see its vice presidential candidate elected on the separate vice presidential ballot. We’ll come back to this.
Second — with no Electoral College majority in the presidential contests, the presidential election would be thrown, according to the Constitution, to the newly elected House of Representatives (not the current House), which can choose from the top three presidential Electoral College vote-getters. However, the House would vote by state. North Dakota — with one (currently Republican) congressman — counts the same as California, with 39 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
In the current House, a significant majority of states is controlled by Republicans.
Here’s another crucial point: Election by the House requires a majority vote — that’s 26 of the 50 states. If there is no president-elect on Inauguration Day, the vice president becomes the acting president until the House elects someone ( so says the 20th Amendment). That might never happen. If Trump or Clinton were to “win” states with an Electoral College majority, but come up short on the college’s presidential ballot, his or her running mate could end up in charge for the whole four years.
Many crucial questions will emerge. Here are two:
First, although Republicans almost certainly will control 26 or more state delegations next year, is it clear that they would make Trump president? Why not wait and, meanwhile, let Pence take office? Trump could only become president on their terms (by making a deal, you might say).
Second, might Republicans and Democrats elect a compromise candidate? A bipartisan Electoral College Awakening Convention could pave the way.
Here’s the bottom line: Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders have shaken up both parties. This was badly needed. But America doesn’t want either Trump or Clinton as president.
On Dec. 19, our 538 electors will vote at 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C. We should organize and demand that our electors — not party robots, but living, breathing people — manufacture some better options for We the People.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr., of Minneapolis, a Republican, is a candidate for the state Senate.