A Trump elector wrote a New York Times Op-ed today vowing to not cast a vote for Trump. Christopher Suprun is one of Trump’s 306 electors, chosen by Texas to represent the people of Texas in casting a vote for Trump on the 19th. Despite being pledged to Trump by the voters, he has decided that he knows better than the voters who selected him. Some have estimated as many as 7 faithless electors this year who will choose an alternative to Trump.
This is nothing new. There have been some 157 faithless electors over the years. In 2004, an elector reportedly made an error when he wrote John Edwards rather than John Kerry. In 1872, 63 electors chose not to vote for Horace Greeley, who died after election day. In every election Nixon ran in, two wins and one loss, at least one elector defected.
7 electors only represents about a sixth of the margin that put Trump over 270. Unless there is a major shift, Trump will still receive the 270 electoral votes needed to win. If there is a major shift, Congress will choose between Trump, Clinton, and anyone else who gets electoral votes.
The 7 electors who have so far declared that they will not choose Trump have indicated they will vote for John Kasich. Calling themselves the Hamilton Electors, if they can sway another 30 electors it could create an unprecedented situation. Congress would then choose one of the top three candidates who received electoral votes. It would be possible in that situation for Congress to choose John Kasich, making him the next President instead of Trump.
The chances of this happening are slim to none. Even if enough faithless electors banded together to stop Trump, it’s highly unlikely that the Republican Party would either split their vote allowing Hillary Clinton an opening or go against the will of their own voters. Kasich’s own top adviser has poured cold water on the idea.
Faithless electors have never changed an election outcome. 29 states have laws against faithless electors, but the penalties are minimal fines and none have ever been enforced. What might make 2016 different is that Trump comes into the Presidency with historic unfavorable ratings, Christopher Suprun wrote about his dissenting vote in a New York Times Op-ed, making it very visible ahead of time, and some electors have received death threats. They have more to think about than they might in a normal election year.