#DemocrEC: Queers Launch Grassroots Campaign To Stop Trump Presidency, It Could Work

Today marks the soft launch of DemocrEC, a website that is attempting to raise awareness about our one last hope to prevent a Trump presidency: the Electoral College vote on December 19th.

This website was conceptualized, designed, built and launched by a bunch of Autostraddle and A-Camp adjacent folks including our Feminism Editor Carmen Rios, Autostraddle founding member Carly Usdin, former A-Camp staffer Soph Bonde and A-Campers Keely Weiss and Amanda Werner.

Carmen will be writing more in-depth about this effort next week but we wanted you to know about it RIGHT NOW.

From the press release:

DemocrEC.org, the campaign website opens on a central rallying cry: “Donald Trump is an illegitimate President-elect, and it is up to us to ensure he never reaches the Oval Office.” Organizers lay out an argument within elaborating on the ways in which Donald Trump’s rhetoric, lack of experience and campaign promises put the United States in danger. They also urge electors to instead vote for Hillary Clinton, whose lead in the popular vote just surpassed one million and is expected to grow to over two million once all ballots are counted.

Building from a viral petition with more than four million signatures, DemocrEC.org allows visitors to easily email their state’s electors and demand they honor both the popular vote and the Electoral College’s historical purpose—preventing an unfit leader from taking office. The website also chronologically tracks “Trump’s America,” compiling information about the adverse consequences to date of Trump’s presumed win—among them a litany of hate crimes committed in his name. Campaign organizers also plan to stage on-the-ground actions.

Contrary to widespread belief, it is unquestionably constitutional for electors to cast their ballots to honor the will of the American people, as they are not bound to any particular candidate. In fact, it is the Electoral College’s duty to honor the will of the people—and the country’s best interests. While some states impose fines on electors who break with their party, many others allow them to vote their conscience. In its history, 157 electors from the Elector College have broken with their parties—one as recently as 2004. Many electors voting this year, Republicans among them, have already publicly expressed concerns that Trump is unfit for the presidency.

The website offers tools to contact your electors if you live in a state that went to Donald Trump that permits electors to go against the popular vote in their state. However, not all states make room for this provision. For example, I live in Michigan, and I voted for Hillary in the primary and in the November election, but she did not win either time! THANKS AMERICA.

The Michigan government website explains, “Electors pledge to support the candidate they represent and may not vote otherwise. Michigan voters can be assured that all 16 Michigan electoral votes automatically go to the presidential candidate winning the popular vote.”

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What’s really choice about this particular internet website is that it goes on to explain that the electoral college system was established in “the politically volatile environment of the late 18th century” before “mass communication and the dominant two-party political system we take for granted today.” We are informed that:

“The Electoral College was written into the U.S. Constitution in 1787, a time when our nation was new and still struggling in many ways, including politically. Of primary concern was the possibility of a nationwide election breaking down into chaos and confusion.”

G-d forbid that should ever happen in the modern era.

Go add your voice today. Seriously.

ETA: Also watch this video:

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2837 articles for us.

42 Comments

  1. I dunno about this. I’m all for abolishing the electoral college on the grounds that it’s a perversion of democracy, but in that case it has nothing to do with Trump’s particular awfulness — the electoral college should be abolished regardless of whether we are happy or upset about the way in which it has distorted the popular vote this time around (although in practice it favors the Republicans).

    But saying that the electors should throw their votes to Clinton because Trump is awful, rather than because the electoral college is undemocratic, unfortunately reminds me of Trump’s (outrageous) refusal to say that he would respect the outcome of the election. We should not petition to change the rules of the election after the fact to make it the case that Clinton wins, in virtue of the fact that Trump is horrible. What if a super-left candidate were to win the presidency and conservatives decided to petition the electors on the grounds that such a far-left candidate is dangerous to the country? The left would be justifiably outraged.

    So, let’s definitely petition to change the electoral college to go with the popular vote, but we should do it because it makes the system more democratic, not because Trump is shockingly awful.

    • It is not ‘changing the rules of the election after the fact’.

      The electoral college and these rules have been around since before the election. In fact, the reason for the set-up is discussed, if I am not mistaken, in the No.68 Federalist Paper(s) by Hamilton:
      “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man” to be elected by the popular vote. Erego, we have an electoral college to cast their ballots for whomever they see fit to lead the country. This could be Trump. This could be Hillary. This could be Mike Pence, or John Kasich, or Bernie Sanders.

      I understand what you are saying about how hypocritical this looks, and that the electoral college prevents direct democracy and may need to be changed. However, it appears that the electoral college was meant as a safety-net for a scenario just like this one. Whatever happens, we will find out around December 19th.

      May the odds be ever in our favor.

      For more on this: http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/15/electoral-college-didnt-steal-election-trump/

      • This is terribly hypocritical. Many of the most important rules of our fragile republic are norms rather than law. For example: that presidential candidates should disclose their tax returns, or that Supreme Court justices should refrain from publicly expressing partisan political preferences.

        One such norm is that electors in the Electoral College are obligated to respect the outcomes of the popular vote in their states. To actively pressure electors to disregard this norm is to engage in the most destructive form of partisan maneuvering — the very sort of maneuvering we have accused Trump of engaging in time and again.

        I say this as an avid Hillary supporter, and someone who fears for the country under a Trump administration. I’d rather see him impeached, and replaced by Pence (with all of the attendant regressions in my civil rights that could entail), than see my government so brutally undermined.

        If you care about the United States, if you believe in our democratic institutions, if you have faith in our capacity for self-government, in our ability to evolve into a more perfect union, then campaign to abolish the electoral college for 2020, not to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

    • 1. It is not hypocritical. The candidates’ statements about whether or not they would accept the results of the election do not automatically apply to the general public.

      2. The results of the election were in fact that Clinton received a million more votes. So this is not about changing the results of the election, it is about demanding that a broken system be fixed IMMEDIATELY.

      3. If you don’t like this idea because you somehow thinks it makes Clinton supporters look bad, I ask you to consider whether “looking bad” is worse than living under the regime of a racist sexist tyrant who will do his best to unravel the fabric of modern American society. Personally, I don’t give a fuck how bad I look to Trump supporters. He must be stopped at all costs.

    • “What if a super-left candidate were to win the presidency and conservatives decided to petition the electors on the grounds that such a far-left candidate is dangerous to the country? The left would be justifiably outraged.”

      hi! i made this website with my friends! and this is something i think about often – it’s something i contemplate as a lefty and an activist who knows that precedent can be good for us and simultaneously bad for us.

      this isn’t about not liking donald trump. it’s about the actual fallout happening in the week since he’s been elected. world leaders are shook. russia may have intervened in our election. people are getting knifed, harassed, and assaulted on private property and at work and in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL classes. the president-elect has admitted he doesn’t know how to staff a white house. the outgoing president needs to mentor him because he wasn’t aware of “the scope” of the job. he’s never been elected to office. he doesn’t know the names of his future colleagues.

      left or right, this shit is a mess. and it’s what the electoral college was invented to take care of. our democracy is in danger – and not just because of the popular vote, and not just because the ec is outdated. it’s in danger because a fascist lost the popular vote but managed to eek out a win based on said outdated system, and we’re all going to suffer – even his supporters – in due time.

      this is their job. it’s about time they get to do it, honestly.

    • I’d have to agree. The system is what it is, and while, even as a Brit (and therefore still threatened if Trump screws up the geopolitics), I’d love to not face the prospect of him being in charge, I don’t think there’s a case for blocking his inauguration now.

      Your system needs changing just like ours does – but you go down this road you blur the line between what’s okay if you don’t like a candidate/winner and what’s not okay. If you want rid of the electoral college I think you have to do it through campaigning and balloting – and don’t forget Trump himself is on record condemning the college system.

      It’s always possible you might be able to generate support for that move over the next four years, or eight – but I don’t

  2. I’ve been reading all I can about the Electoral College vote on the 19th and possibility of stopping a Trump Presidency. Even signed the petition on Change.org *(has over 4 Million signatures at this point)*. But this will not happen sorry to say. How about next election the 49.6% of the eligible voters who did not come out and vote come out and vote. I am a Democrat and voted that way but let’s stop trying to undo a horrible event and work on stopping Trump in the Senate and House.

  3. I signed the petition, but this year has made me cynical enough to not really expect anything to come of it.

    There would be a lot of pissed off people if the EC gave the election to Clinton instead, but I think in the long run it would be far better than the alternative.

    Trump has only been President elect for a week and the news has already been shocking as all hell. Hate crimes are on the rise, judges who think gay people should be locked up just because being considered for the SC, Mike Fucking Pence, the talk of a Muslim Registry…

    That’s only the first week!

    Pardon me, I’m gonna go throw up now.

  4. Cool! I really hope this works!!

    Here’s an additional thought though. Maybe I read the wrong stuff, but that’s something I’ve not really heard that much by US-Americans:

    Even if Hillary would not have won the popular vote, I think the electoral college people should still vote for her. Because democracy should not just be about what a majority of people want (even if everybody had the same chance to vote, and different people’s voices had the same impact). Democracy should also by definition be based on human rights. And in a democracy the voted representatives should not have the power to get rid of human rights and therefore destroy the democracy that made their election possible in the first place.

    A lot of dictators were supported and elected by a majority of the population (Putin, Erdogan, and even Hitler for that matter). That does not mean that they should be considered a legitimate leader.

    If the majority of people vote to kill all queer people or something it would still not be democratic to kill all queer people. Is what I’m trying to say.

    If people say “Cheeto-Guy should not be president because more people actually voted for Hillary and that’s how democracy should work” that’s true, but also not the whole point and not the most important point because Hillary’s lead does not really seem like much relative to the whole US population.

    • The people behind DemocrEC also seem to think so:

      “A Trump presidency poses an unprecedented danger to our democracy and would be a clear violation of the will of American voters.”

      My comment was not really directed at them. More at all those people who say “well, Cheeto-Guy might be terrible, but that’s how democracy works. We will have to deal with this somehow”. This is NOT how democracy works!

    • It’s a numbers thing.

      The electoral college has only 538 people in it.
      The roll of eligible registered voters for the popular vote has a couple hundred million people in it. Turn out (people who actually voted) this year was about 200 mil.

      And 270 votes is a majority in the EC.
      Once a side reaches 270 it’s game set and match for that side.
      Savy?

    • Sometimes you can tell who won before you’ve finished counting. Say your state has 300 voters in it. If, after counting 200 ballots, candidate A has 151 votes and candidate B has 49 votes, you know that A has won that state because they got a majority of the votes. You don’t know the exact margin of victory until you count the remaining 100 votes.

      A majority doesn’t always determine a winner. Looking at the 300 voters scenario again with a 3 candidate race, let’s say that A has 121, B has 99, C has 50, and there are 30 votes left to count. Even if all 30 of those votes are for B, there is no way for B to pass A at this point since 99+30 = 119 < 121. There is also no way for C to win either. So no matter what, A will get the greatest number of votes in this scenario, even if that number is not a majority.

    • Also, the Electoral College isn’t finalized until the electors cast their votes on December 19th (as this post says). So the electoral maps existing so far aren’t based on the final votes, but are cast red or blue based on which candidate currently has the majority of votes in each state. You don’t need to have counted all of the ballots to be able to tell who has the lead. It is theoretically possible that some states could flip from one candidate to another once all the votes are counted, but for most states that is very unlikely to happen so people feel comfortable unofficially calling the race.

  5. Is anyone else reading all this stuff about Russia hacking the election results?

    “The White House confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that eight days before the presidential election, the United States “contacted the Russian government directly regarding malicious cyberactivity” that was “targeting U.S. state election-related systems.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/us/politics/white-house-confirms-pre-election-warning-to-russia-over-hacking.html?_r=0

    http://gothamist.com/2016/11/17/russia_hackers_election_trump.php

  6. !urgent!—i tried to pick my state from the list (and then others to see if it was just a one-off error) and got an error message from google drive:

    “We’re sorry. You can’t access this item because it is in violation of our Terms of Service.”

    is anybody else having trouble? if there’s really something wrong, i wanna make sure the team knows about it ASAP so they can get it up and running again!

  7. Oh, cool! I’d seen – and signed – the campaign but wasn’t sure how legit it was bc most major news sources weren’t covering it (not that that’s always a good measure of legitimacy). So, this is actually a real thing that could possibly happen? (I don’t always trust change.org campaigns: they can be a little gimmicky and not well-informed)

  8. Couple questions:

    A lot of commenters here seem to think DemocrEC is for ending the electoral college. My reading is that it’s asking that the electors function as historically and constitutionally intended, right? Just asking them to vote against their state’s trend?

    Why are ppl confusing these two things? Is there another big online petition to end the electoral college or smthg?

    Second, I think the word “illegitimate” has a different literal meaning than what you go on to describe, which is “dangerously incompetent” also “amoral”. I think saying the election results are illegitimate is like saying he broke the rules of getting elected, or cheated or smthg, which is not true? SADLY. I could see people getting hung up on semantics with the choice of the word illegitimate, is all i’m trying to say; maybe incompetent would be a better choice.

    I’m excited about this DemocrEC project, really glad you’re taking it on and will def participate. I do think it could work! Thank you for doing this!

  9. It really pains me to say this, but I don’t think this is a good idea. For one thing, it won’t work because Republican electors have no incentive to vote for Clinton over Trump. If they did, from the way I understand it, they’d probably be harassed and targeted for doing so by his angry supporters. If by some miracle we managed to convince enough of them to switch for the good of the country, not only would that set a dangerous precedent, but imagine the reaction. Trump spent the entire election telling people that the system was rigged. If Hillary Clinton were to be made president after losing and conceding, flying in the face of 200 years of tradition, despite it being perfectly constitutional, I shudder to think of the fallout.

  10. Ok I emailed my electors. I was curious, the EC is set up that any one candidate must have at least like 240 EC votes in order to win the election, so even if the 47 needed electors choose random other candidates, as long as they take votes away from Donny Cheetoh, he won’t take office, right?

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