Which Electors Could Change Their Votes? The Legality Is Determined By State
Given the unconventional nature of the 2016 presidential election, the Electoral College's actual vote could, in theory, not go as expected, either. Many are clinging to the hope that some so-called "faithless electors" might defect from President-elect Donald Trump, which could, at the very least, delay his appointment. Which electors could change their votes, you might wonder, and are there enough to actually make an impact? The ability for electors to change their votes is one that's legally determined by state; 29 states and the District of Columbia bind electors to their states' votes, though "the penalty for being a faithless elector is only a fine."
The states that prohibit electors from switching their votes are listed below:
Alabama, Alaska, California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Hawaii Maine Massachusetts Minnesota Michigan Mississippi Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
But some electors are attempting to fight back against this restriction. For instance, attempts in Colorado to allow faithless electors were thwarted by a judge on Tuesday, who insisted that, if electors were unwilling to comply, they could be replaced by others who would carry out the process in accordance to how the state voted.
On the other hand, Georgia, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia don't bind their electors. Heavy's list of Electoral College members gives more detail on who these electors are, though it appears unlikely that any of them intend to switch their vote.
The Associated Press interviewed 330 electors, investigating their loyalty, and ultimately found that said electors are not tempted to switch their votes seeing as they "feel bound by history, duty, party loyalty or the law to rubber-stamp their state’s results." In reality, 37 of Trump's 306 pledged electors would need to switch their vote from Trump in order to prevent him from earning the 270 necessary electoral votes to become president — an magnitude that, by all intents and purposes, appears to be a long shot. A recent RNC whip operation to secure electors' votes claimed that only one elector intends to cast a vote against Trump: Faithless elector Christopher Supin explained his reasoning for voting his conscience in an opinion piece for The New York Times but, as of now, he remains alone in his plan.
The AP's research confirmed that, by and large, Republicans are sticking with Trump, regardless of personal opinion. Though faithless elector petitions have been widely circulating online, electors continue to profess that they're sticking to their guns or, rather, their states' guns.