The Electoral College voted today, in a vote that brought far greater attention than any Electoral College vote since 2000. Although chances were slim that enough people would flip their votes to take away the election from President-Elect Donald Trump, we didn’t know for certain until all the votes are counted. This has been an unprecedented election. The map above shows the electoral college map as it appears based on final reports from local news, state officials and electors. Trump has won. (To see a state-by-state list of how electors are voting, see our story here.)
Here were the possible Electoral College outcomes that we reported on before the votes took place:
Outcome 1: All Electors Stick to Their States’ Votes and Trump Wins
First, each elector could vote exactly according to the outcome of the November election. This would result in Trump walking away with 306 electoral votes and Hillary Clinton getting her 232 votes. Only 270 votes are needed to win. If this happens, the map will be unchanged and will look exactly like it does above.
Outcome 2: Not Enough Republican Electors Flip and Trump Wins
So far, only one Republican elector has publicly stated that they plan to flip and not vote for Trump. That is Chris Suprun of Texas. But because 37 people would need to flip in order to force a tie in the Elector College vote, his flip wouldn’t be enough to change things. In fact, there haven’t been any unofficial vote counts or pledges so far that would lead to Trump losing 37 votes. Even Lawrence Lessig, an attorney offering pro bono services for electors thinking of flipping, has said that he’s only heard of 20 who might plan to flip.
Outcome 3: Some Democrat Electors Flip from Clinton
Some electors are planning to flip away from Hillary Clinton and choose an alternative Republican candidate. These are part of a group called the Hamilton Electors. They were hoping to add a Republican compromise candidate into the mix and convince some Republican electors to flip for their candidate. Some have said this candidate would be John Kasich and others said Mitt Romney. But even if some electors for Clinton vote for a Republican candidate instead, Trump would still have to lose 37 electors of his own before it could make any difference in the final results.
Outcome 4: Clinton Flips Enough Electors to Win
Another possible outcome is that Hillary Clinton would gain enough electors to win. She currently has 232 and would need 38 electors to walk away with the win. This isn’t very likely to happen. Remember, in 2000 when Bush and Gore were much closer in electoral votes and Bush only needed to lose two in order to force the vote to the House of Representatives, he didn’t lose a single vote. So this makes the likelihood of Trump losing enough votes to give the win to Clinton even more unlikely.
Outcome 5: Neither Clinton nor Trump Get Enough Votes to Win
The fifth possible outcome is that neither Clinton nor Trump walk away with the 270 votes needed to win. Once again, this isn’t very likely because Trump would need to lose 37 votes, which is unprecedented in history. There was only one time in history that faithless electors altered the result of an electoral vote. In 1836, all 23 electors in Virginia opted to be faithless. They were pledged to vote for Martin Van Buren and his running mate, Richard Mentor Johnson. But instead, they all refused to vote for Johnson. The Senate decided the election and ended up choosing Johnson anyway.
If, by some chance, neither Trump nor Clinton walk away with 270 votes, then the House of Representatives would vote for President and the Senate would vote for Vice President on January 6. Congress will be officially counting the electoral votes on January 6 anyway, but it will be mostly a ceremonious event unless enough electors flip to change things significantly.
What are the penalties if an elector chooses to flip and not vote according to their state? It varies depending on the state. See details here.Click here to read more