A group of Democratic electors are banding together in a bid to persuade their colleagues to vote against Donald Trump – and deny him the presidency – when the Electoral College meets on 19 December.
The electors are hoping to convince their GOP counterparts to reject the president-elect, despite his clear victory on 8 November. At the time of writing, Trump had 290 electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton's 232, meaning they would need to sway 37 Republican electors to go against him – an unlikely feat.
While the task seems improbable, the goal is to build enough momentum to spark a serious discussion regarding Electoral College reform. While Clinton is on course to win the popular vote by at least 1 million ballots, Trump easily secured enough electoral votes to clinch the White House.
The Democratic electors are hoping for a "compromise candidate" – a Republican they find more palatable than Trump, such as Mitt Romney or John Kasich. The efforts are being spearheaded by Michael Baca of Colorado and Bret Chiafalo of Washington State.
"I do think that a byproduct would be a serious look into Electoral College reform," Baca was quoted as saying by Politico.
"If it gets into the House, the controversy and the uncertainty that would immediately blow up into a political firestorm in the US that would cause enough people – my hope is – to look at the whole concept of the Electoral College," another unidentified elector said.
The pair, who call themselves the Hamilton Electors in a nod to Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, base their campaign on his vision that "electors be free to vote their conscience for the good of America".
An elector who goes against the state's majority vote is known as a "faithless elector". Some states, including Colorado and Washington, have laws requiring the elector to reflect the will of its people.
Describing the role of the Electoral College in 1788, Hamilton said: "The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
"Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honours in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States."
Explaining his position, Chiafalo said: "The general strategy right now is to educate and support the Republican electors, to let them know that they have the right – the duty – to pick who they think is right for the presidency."
According to geopolitical forecaster, George Friedman, the founding fathers were wary of direct democracy, fearing that "passions could arouse the public, and national policy could become hostage to these passions". The Electoral College was created to protect the most powerful office in the country from a popular candidate who is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief.
Speaking to The Atlantic, College of Charleston political science professor Claire Wofford said: "You could argue that the election of Trump is just such an instance, in which a demagogue has somehow managed to 'sway' an easily misled public."