Today, Dec. 19, is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. According to federal law, today is the designated day when the 538 members of the electoral college can set up meetings in their 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their votes for President of the United States.
Usually it is fairly simple. The presidential candidate who won more than 270 of the state electors on Nov. 8 is inaugurated on Jan. 20 of the following year. The electoral college system was created by the founding fathers as a compromise between direct popular vote and representative vote.
But this year there are challenges to the system. Some Democrats believe that President-elect Donald Trump is not fit for office. Two from Colorado claim that the founding fathers created the electoral college to be sure the presidency went to a person with the requisite (though unspecified) qualifications, who had not fooled the populace with demagoguery.
During the past few weeks, the press has heavily covered the national campaign to persuade electors to vote against Trump, even if their states had gone his way. They urged them — sometimes with thousands of pieces of mail and some threats — to be “faithless electors.”
Election protesters only need 37 “faithless” Republican electors to deprive Trump of his 270 votes. In all of American history, there have only been 9 “faithless” electors. In fact, 23 states and the District of Columbia have made it illegal for an elector to vote against the state results. Electors who do can be replaced or fined and their votes can be ignored (it depends on the state).
The three District of Columbia electors, all Democrats, are Anita Bonds, Jack Evans and Franklin Garcia, an African American woman, a white man and a Latino man. They will meet at 5 p.m. today in room 509 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, who overwhelmingly won in the District (but not, as you are aware, nationally).
On the face of it, the event isn’t particularly newsworthy. Still the press is invited. And there is an effort to make news.
“I am the only Latino elector out of 25 in the area,” Garcia wrote in a bilingual press release sent to The Georgetowner. “I’ll be there at 4 p.m. and I encourage Spanish language media to attend to witness this actor,” he wrote in Spanish.
The electoral vote is only the third step of six. All the Certificates of Vote must be received by the Office of the Federal Registrar in D.C. by Dec. 28. Then, on Jan. 6, starting at 1 p.m., a joint session of Congress must hear the reading of the votes, prepared by the U.S. Archivist. Members of Congress can object to a vote, but the objection must be in writing. Unless both houses agree to disqualify a vote that has been objected to, it will be counted in the final tally. The president and vice president are then declared officially elected.
On Jan. 20, the inauguration will take place in Washington, D.C. This year, more than 20 groups of demonstrators — most in opposition to Trump’s perceived policies — have applied for officially designated spaces on and near the Mall on Jan. 21.
Then, at last, the official election period will be over and the “First 100 Days” will have begun.