Democratic and Republican electors are still working on last-ditch efforts to block President-elect Donald Trump from winning the Electoral College vote on Monday

By Tierney McAfee
December 15, 2016 05:30 PM
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s not over ’til the electors say it’s over.

Democratic and Republican electors are still working on last-ditch efforts to block President-elect Donald Trump from winning the Electoral College vote on Monday.

Democratic electors filed lawsuits in Colorado, California and Washington state seeking to overturn — or avoid being fined for breaking — laws binding them to vote for the candidate who won their state’s popular vote. (In the cases of those three states, that’s former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.)

The lawsuits were filed as part of a larger effort to unite with Republican electors to vote for a compromise presidential candidate other than Trump, the Associated Press reported.

The bid suffered two setbacks this week, however. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that Colorado’s nine electors must vote for Clinton, in accordance with the state’s popular vote. On Wednesday, a judge rejected a similar lawsuit in Washington state, where two Democratic electors had petitioned to avoid being fined if they failed to vote for their pledged candidate. (In 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, there are laws that prohibit electors from voting against their pledged candidate. Electors in the other 21 states can legally vote for anyone they want.)

Despite these defeats, the scheme seems to have rattled Trump, who had attorneys file motions on his behalf to intervene and become a party to the lawsuits in Colorado and California.

So far only one Republican elector, Christopher Suprun of Texas, has publicly declared he would vote for an alternative GOP candidate instead of Trump.

But Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig claims that more than 20 Republican electors are considering voting their conscience rather than voting for Trump.

Lessig’s anti-Trump group, Electors Trust, has been offering pro bono legal counsel to Republican electors who are considering rebelling against Trump. He offered no evidence to support his claim but told Politico, “We now believe there are more than half the number needed to change the result seriously considering making that vote.”

The Electoral College’s 538 members – 306 of which are Republicans and 232 of which are Democrats – will gather in their state capitals on Monday to officially cast their votes for the nation’s next president. If all 306 Republican electors vote for Trump, he’d easily surpass the 270 votes necessary to become president. Lessig and other anti-Trump activists are trying to convince at least 37 Republicans to vote down Trump.

“Our goal is to let the electors exercise their judgment, and what we believe is at least 37 electors will make the judgment not to support Donald Trump,” Lessig told MSNBC this week. “And if that happens, then of course it goes to the House, and the House has to pick among the top three candidates.”

He’s not alone in his efforts.

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More than 4.8 million citizens have signed a record-breaking petition calling on the Electoral College to make Hillary Clinton president. Daniel Brezenoff, founder of the Electoral College Petition, has been working with a coalition of like-minded academics, Democratic electors and at least one elected official to persuade Republican electors to cast their ballots for Clinton instead of Trump — even if it means voting against the candidate who won their state’s popular vote.

Brezenoff recently told PEOPLE of his efforts, “I know it’s a longshot but this has been a year of longshots and unpredictable outcomes.”

Brezenoff, an activist and clinical social worker, used most of the approximately $250,000 he raised through his petition to take out full-page ads in newspapers across the country to persuade Electoral College members to “vote their conscience.” The ads, aimed at Republican electors in states won by Trump, ran this week in The Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Austin American-Statesman, The Salt Lake City Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Wisconsin State Journal, Politico reported.

Brezenoff’s group has also joined with several others (Americans Take Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy Spring) to form the December 19 Coalition, which is organizing protests to be held in all 50 state capitals on Monday during the Electoral College vote. Thousands of citizens are expected to take part in the demonstrations.

The anti-Trump cause also got a dose of star power when celebrities including Debra Messing, Martin Sheen and Bob Odenkirk appeared a video plea to Republican electors, urging them to vote down Trump.

If all else fails, there’s always stalling for more time. Democratic U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia is asking Congress to delay the Electoral College vote in light of the CIA’s report that Russia intervened in last month’s election to help Trump win, The Washington Post reported.

“Recent, credible intelligence reports suggest a concerted effort by a foreign power to interfere in the outcome” of the election, Beyer said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, adding, “I call on the leaders of Congress to delay the date of the vote for the Electoral College until an intelligence briefing has been given to each Elector.”

And nearly 60 electors have added their names to the 10 electors who, on Monday, demanded that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper give them a full briefing on Russian election interference before the Dec. 19 vote.

The multiple efforts all come as Clinton’s lead in the popular vote continues to grow, with the former secretary of state leading Trump by a whopping 2.8 million votes (and counting), according to a tally reported Tuesday by The Independent.

The newspaper notes that Trump lost the popular vote by a bigger margin than any president in United States history.