US Election 2020: What are ‘faithless electors’ that Trump allies hyping to help him secure second term?

As pressure mounts on US President Donald Trump to concede defeat in the elections, some of his staunch supporters are hyping up ‘faithless electors’ to secure another second term for the Republican leader. US citizens technically vote for “electors”, usually state officials or senior party leaders, who subsequently elect the president.

The Electoral College refers to the group of people with a shared task of choosing the next president and vice-president. It meets every four years to carry out the task after election results are out. According to current projections by media networks, Joe Biden has won 306 electoral votes as against 232 won by the incumbent president.

What are faithless electors?

Trump’s allies are talking up a wild plan to ensure that the US President remains in power even after convincingly losing popular as well as projected electoral votes. The obscure loophole allows members of the Electoral College to not vote for the presidential or vice-presidential candidate for whom they had pledged. Such members of the Electoral College are called faithless electors.

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All pledging laws originate at the state level and just 14 states, representing 121 electoral votes, have legislated to provide for the cancellation of a faithless vote. While remaining 417 electors could break their pledge without facing cancellation, it remains highly improbable that more than 36 electors would flip from Biden to Trump, given the US President was impeached by Democrat-controlled House.

Mark Levin, a key media ally of Trump, shared another plan on Twitter which got flagged as ‘misleading’ by the micro-blogging platform. “REMINDER TO THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEGISLATURES, YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY OVER THE CHOOSING OF ELECTORS,” tweeted Levin.

According to the controversial plan, secretaries of state in Blue states would block state officials from certifying election results. Republican legislatures would then be free to appoint new officials to the Electoral College, who will vote in favour of Trump. However, such attempts would face enormous legal and political obstacles.

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