WASHINGTON — As poll margins get slimmer between unpopular candidates and polarization continues to increase among the American electorate, could rogue electoral college voters swing the election?
Theoretically, yes. It’s just highly, highly unlikely.
“There have been a number of occasions in the past where individual electors have, in effect, thrown away their vote,” Jack Rakove, a history and political science professor at Stanford University, told CNN’s Michael Smerconish Saturday.
Since no instance of this in recent history has affected the final outcome of an election, people don’t normally take notice, Rakove said.
But, Rakove said, “If some kind of crisis arose where some group of electors felt that they had to act independently and exercise what they thought was their constitutional authority under Article II of the Constitution, then we’d be in a truly interesting situation.”
The electoral college consists of 538 electors who each vote for president and vice president on December 19. A candidate must have 270 votes to win the majority, and although most states bind their electoral college votes to their popular vote, not all do.
But that doesn’t mean one should be expecting any constitutional crises come December.
“The chances of this happening are — I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles — in the slim to no range,” Rakove said.