The vitriol surrounding November’s election didn’t dissipate after the votes came in. If anything, it grew stronger. But then some of the focus turned from the presidential candidates to the members of the Electoral College.
Many people thought the election as over after November 8th, but that’s not quite the case because the voters don’t directly cast ballots for the next president. That’s where the Electoral College comes in. The Electoral College is made up of 538 people selected by their party to support the party’s candidate. States are allocated two electors with more assigned based on population. President-elect Donald Trump won Florida’s 29 electors on November 8th.
But in an unusual twist, Trump didn’t win the popular vote. Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. The 2016 election was the fifth time a presidential candidate was elected by the Electoral College but lost the popular vote.
While supporters saw Trump’s campaign rhetoric as refreshingly authentic, many voters found themselves alarmed by his crude comments about women and minorities. Despite his call for unity, protests broke out across the country.
Those opposed to a Trump presidency turned their hopes to getting electors to change their votes. Thousands of people across the country reached out to electors in Florida and other states begging them to change their minds.
Florida elector and Pinellas County GOP chairman Nick DiCeglie said he got thousands of emails and letters asking him to vote for a different Republican or a unity ticket with both a Republican and a Democrat.
“Most of these folks are I would assume Democrats," he said. "They don’t say I’m a Democrat but the ones that say ‘I’m a Republican’ pretty much right in the beginning of the emails or the letters state that. So, I’ll take a guess that 99 percent of these folks are all Democrats.”
Experts say the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as an extra check to make sure no unqualified candidate would win the power of the presidency. In more than 200 years, electors have never overturned election day results.
Protesters who called for electors to “flip their vote” argue Trump is unqualified. His critics have raised concerns about his positive comments about Russia’s president, his refusal to release his financial information and his business conflicts.
Tallahassee resident Tao Valentine organized a protest at Florida’s state Capitol this past Sunday just before the state’s electors met to vote.
“I deeply believe that equality is a virtue worth fighting for," she said. "I feel like almost everything I love and stand for is under attack in a Trump presidency. I feel like we’re at war and I need to speak out.”
No electors in Florida changed their vote away from Trump in the end. While there were a few electors in other states that that switched their votes from Clinton or Trump, the results didn’t change.
Congress is scheduled to certify the Electoral College vote in early January. Trump’s inauguration is January 20th.