A 19-year-old from Washington state is the latest member of the electoral college to announce she's not planning to vote for the presidential candidate her state chose. Levi Guerra announced on Wednesday she's joining a renegade group of electors called the Hamilton Electors, whose goal is to persuade 37 Republican electors not to vote for Donald Trump on December 19.
"I stand behind Hamilton electors," Guerra said during a press conference. "I promised those who elected me that I would do everything I could to ensure Donald does not become our president."
In an ironic twist, though, Washington went blue for Hillary Clinton. But instead of casting her ballot for the Democrat, Guerra says she's going to be a "faithless elector" and instead choose an "alternative Republican." It's her way of "highlighting her deep fears about [Trump's] presidency in the hope of encouraging Republican electors in red states to follow suit," the Guardian reports.
"As a Democratic elector," Guerra said Wednesday, "it's not an easy thing for me to pledge my vote to a qualified Republican alternative. But as an American, I know that it is the right thing to do."
Guerra is the third electoral college member in her state to announce her plans to defect and lodge a protest vote against Trump. Four electors from Colorado, which also voted for Clinton, also have plans to do the same. So far, no electors from red states have announced they would follow suit, with the exception of Art Sisneros from Texas, who resigned from the electoral college instead of casting his vote for Trump.
The Hamilton Electors believe the welfare of the country is at risk under a Trump presidency. "The Founding Fathers intended the electoral college to stop an unfit man from becoming President," they write on their website. "The Constitution they crafted gives us this tool. Conscience demands that we use it." If they're able to short Trump the number of votes he needs to win the White House, the duty of deciding the next president will go to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
It's a symbolic action that provides a message loud and clear to the world and to the American public that this man certainly does not have the majority support.
Elizabeth Sherman is a professor of politics at American University. She says electors have every right to vote their conscience. "The electoral college was designed to be a representative organization, to represent the people, but certainly they were expected to use their own judgment," she tells Broadly. "They formed a firewall between the people and the office. So no one was really going to be elected to the presidency unless they were able to pass muster with the electors."
Sherman says that even though only seven electors so far have come out in protest, she doesn't rule out the possibility of an upset when the electoral college casts its votes. "I think it's possible that more and more electors could have second thoughts about the president-elect. If they do, it could develop into something that could have really significant outcomes. Of course, that'd have to be an awful lot of electoral votes. But by the same token, it could definitely happen."
"I think when you combine the hesitancy of even seven electors to support him," she continues, "and their willingness to very courageously put themselves forward knowing the kind of vicious, racial, violent reaction they are going to get from the Trump supporters, then you really have to recognize that these people take their responsibility very seriously. It's a symbolic action that provides a message loud and clear to the world and to the American public that this man certainly does not have the majority support."
As of press time, 4.6 million people have signed a petition asking electors from 14 states to ignore their states' votes and go for Clinton instead. (The 14 states were targeted because electors can vote the way they choose without any legal penalties.) At last check, Clinton leads in the popular vote by more than 2.5 million.