Rob Burgess

Well, I did what I could. As I wrote in my Dec. 14 column, “An open letter to electors,” I begged the 538 members of the Electoral College to vote for anyone but Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Sadly, only delegates from just 21 states have freedom from local restrictions on voting against the popular vote of their state. That means even if the right number of these so-called “faithless electors” broke ranks in an attempt to reconcile their result with that of the national popular vote, it wouldn’t matter unless it came from the correct states.

When the big day arrived, a few electors did lose their faith, but not in the way I had hoped. All told, of the 306 pledged Trump delegates, he ended up with 304, clearing the 270 threshold. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost much more ground as her 232 pledged delegate count shrank to 227 before it was over.

“Seven electors, the most ever, voted for someone other than their party’s nominee,” reported Kiersten Schmidt and Wilson Andrews of The New York Times on Dec. 19. “In Washington, a state where Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had strong support in the Democratic primary against Clinton, three of the state’s 12 electoral votes went to Colin L. Powell, the Republican former secretary of state. One more elector voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American leader. Another Democratic elector in Hawaii voted for Sanders. Two Texas electors voted for different Republican politicians: Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Texas congressman Ron Paul. In addition, three Democratic electors, in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota, initially declined to vote for Clinton. Two were replaced by an alternate, and one ended up changing his vote.”

The next day, when the final results of the Nov. 8 presidential election were announced, it showed Clinton received more popular votes than anyone who has ever sought and failed to win the presidency.

“According to the independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report, Clinton’s final tally came in at 65,844,610, compared to Donald Trump’s 62,979,636, with a difference of 2,864,974. The total number of votes for other candidates was 7,804,213,” reported Sarah Begley of Time Magazine on Dec. 20.

That left only one last formality before Trump’s victory was sealed: certification by the House of Representatives.

“Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors,” reads Federal law 3-USC-15, in part. “Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one senator and one member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received.”

Though several patriotic House members stood to raise objections, they received no help from their counterparts in the Senate.

“A number of members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus hoped to open a debate,” reported The Nation’s John Nichols on Friday. “Unfortunately, there was no debate because no senator agreed to join in the objections from the Democratic members of the House. … As Vice President Joe Biden announced the final count — finishing the process that will make Trump the 45th president of the United States — activists objected. They were forcibly removed.”

And that, as they say, was that.

Whatever happens, we can’t say we didn’t do this by the book. We walked right into this one.

Rob Burgess, Tribune city editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at or on Twitter at

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