Although the presidential election is behind us, there’s still one more essential procedural step. Members of the Electoral College will meet in December to officially install Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th President.
The process has come under fire this year, because Hillary Clinton received the popular vote while Donald Trump picked up the electoral votes needed to win. And, there’s been some talk of electors casting protest votes.
The Electoral College has been around for centuries, according to David Canon, political science professor at UW-Madison. He says the nation’s founding fathers set up the system because they didn’t give the electorate much credit.
“There simply was not the same level of confidence that voters would make the correct decisions. Much of the population was not literate and not as informed about politics, so there was the view that you wouldn’t be able to trust them to make the right choices,” Canon says.
So in presidential elections, each state is assigned a certain number of electoral votes. In Wisconsin, it’s ten. They’ll meet at the State Capitol in a noon time ceremony on Dec. 19, the same day that electors will convene at their state capitols. Canon says earlier this year, each party met to pick their electors. They typically consist of a mix of party leaders and citizens.
“There are two separate slates of electors in each state, so there’s the Democratic slate that’s elected by the Democratic Party organization and there’s the Republican slate elected by the Republican Party organization. Depending on which candidate wins the plurality of the votes from a given state, that slate of electors will be the slate that casts their vote in that slate. So in our case, it’ll be the Republican slate of electors voting to support Donald Trump,” Canon says.
But, some electors in Colorado and Washington, have been lobbying their GOP counterparts in other states to vote against Trump. Canon says he doesn’t see those electors having much influence here.
“I can’t imagine that any of the Trump electors would be defecting. This is an issue called the faithless elector. We’ve had many instances in the past of electors not casting their vote for who they’re supposed to, but never in a concerted way like this, it’s always just a random vote or two,” Canon says.
In fact, Canon says in Wisconsin, it’s against the law for an elector to cast a ballot for anyone other than their party’s nominee. Many other states have adopted similar policies.
You need 270 electoral votes to be elected president. If it happens that Donald Trump falls short, the House of Representatives decides.