A professor at Harvard University says he has reason to believe that “at least 30” Republican electors might decide to vote against Donald Trump.
Lawrence Lessig is an expert in constitutional law. He is heading up “Electors Trust,” a group that “provides free and strictly confidential legal support to any Elector who wishes to vote their conscience.” Lessig told LawNewz.com on Friday that he is aware of “at least 30” Republican electors who are not so sure that they want to cast their vote for Trump.
It would take a minimum of 37 electors to change the outcome of the presidential election, and it is definitely a long shot. If enough “faithless” electors did go against their state’s popular vote and chose to vote their conscience, then it would be up to the House of Representatives to decide.
“I think it is a long shot no doubt, but it’s not impossible,” Lessig told LawNewz.com in a phone interview. “A lot depends what happens over the weekend. A lot of people are contacting these organizations.”
Lessig said he knows of these Republican electors who are considering voting against Trump from his conversations with other attorneys in his group and organizations with similar missions. Because of the privacy laws that take effect when a client speaks to an attorney, all information as to who these electors are is confidential. So far, there has been no way to confirm Lessig’s claims.
Lessig and other attorneys are offering their services free of charge to any “faithless” electors that decide they just can’t vote for Trump. Many states have laws requiring electors to vote in line with the popular vote but Lessig believes this is unconstitutional and would be shot down in court. He explained this stance in a recent article.
Legally, or better, constitutionally, electors are free to exercise their “independent and nonpartisan” judgment, as Justice Jackson put it, however they wish. No state law can tell a presidential elector how he or she must vote, any more than a state law could tell the “electors,” as the Constitution describes them, who select Congress (i.e., we voters) how we must vote. The Constitution sets the requirements for an elector; federal law regulates how electors act. Those are the only legal requirements that may, constitutionally, constrain an elector. Thus, on December 19th, by (what should be a secret) ballot, an elector can vote however he or she wishes, without fear of any legal consequence.
So far, only one GOP elector, Christoper Suprun, has publicly said that he intends to vote against Trump despite the popular vote in his state. Another Republican elector from Texas resigned rather than have to vote for Trump.
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