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In fewer than 24 hours, an online petition asking the Electoral College to elect Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump (opens in new tab) for president of the United States has amassed over two million signatures.
"Mr. Trump is unfit to serve," the petition argues (opens in new tab). "His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic."
"Secretary Clinton won the popular vote and should be president," it continues. "The only reason Trump 'won' is because of the Electoral College. But the Electoral College can actually give the White House to either candidate. So why not use this most undemocratic of our institutions to ensure a democratic result?"
As the petition explains, despite Clinton winning the popular vote on Tuesday, Trump was ultimately able to secure more electoral votes, thus making him the winner and 45th president-elect. But technically, the Electoral College doesn't vote until Dec. 19, and the electors have the power to choose Clinton instead of Trump—thus overturning the "results" of the election.
Specifically, those who have signed the petition are asking some electors to vote against their states in order to make Clinton the winner. But even if the petition reaches its goal of three million signatures, which it is definitely on track to do, it's still highly unlikely the Electoral College will vote Clinton into office.
Historically, 99% of electors in the Electoral College have "voted as pledged," and those who haven't have never actually made enough of a difference to sway an election. As the Independent Review Journal (opens in new tab) so eloquently explains it, "The last time an elector voted against his pledge was in 2004, when one elector voted for John Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, instead of Kerry. His vote, like the votes of every other faithless elector in American history, had no effect on the outcome of the election."
The other big reason why the Electoral College might decide not to vote against Trump is, perhaps, more obvious: In some states, it is illegal for an elector not to vote as pledged—but as critics of the petition argue, a fine pales in comparison to how Trump and his supporters might react if electors were to vote against him after he's already "won."
But the message the petition sends is nonetheless an important one, and further highlights just how many people are shocked, terrified, and angry about the results of this election. It is also an empowering reminder of the importance of democracy, and yet another reminder of how important it is to make your voice heard at the polls.
To read more about the petition or sign it, you can click here (opens in new tab).
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Gina Mei is a writer and editor based out of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing, reading, and lost in an Internet vortex, she can usually be found petting the nearest dog.
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