Some call it “slacktivism,” the signing of online petitions in lieu of actual personal commitments of time and effort. But given the growing influence of social media, that definition could be getting a little outdated. Or not. Either way, there’s an interesting process underway right now on Change.org, the website where individuals post petitions for every imaginable cause.
The day after our recent presidential election, with protest marches in progress across the country, a new petition was posted. It implores the electors of the Electoral College to cast their votes for the winner of the popular vote, Hillary Clinton. Although electors could be penalized by their states for not voting as pledged (“faithless electors”), they can vote for any candidate they choose. Or not vote at all. They are not legally bound to vote as their states voted.
Regardless of what you think of online petitions, it’s hard to ignore this one. In less than a week, it has garnered more than four million signatures (4,332,997 at this writing) and the signatures keep coming. It’s the most popular petition ever on Change.org, and the fastest growing. I started watching it about two days ago and in that time it has gained almost a million signatures.
The media are calling this a “Hail Mary” move. A last ditch, pie-in-the-sky pipedream. And it is. The electors vote on December 19 and if history is any indicator, they will simply confirm their states’ votes. Still, the Electoral College was included in the Constitution in part as a way to prevent, if necessary, the election of an unfit individual. It’s never happened. But it could. It could.
This is the fourth time in American history that a president-elect has lost the popular vote. Or it could be the first time the Electoral College has stood up for and honored the will of the majority.