Reality Check: Could faithless electors change presidential election?

Hillary Clinton may have lost the election due to the electoral college, but could she still win if enough electors decided to change their vote for her instead of Donald Trump? (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) - Hillary Clinton may have lost the election due to the electoral college, but could she still win if enough electors decided to change their vote for her instead of Donald Trump?

Electors can vote for a candidate other than their party's choice. They're called "faithless electors." But history shows even if there are faithless electors, they aren't likely to change the election's outcome.

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People unhappy with the election of Donald Trump as the next president have taken their protests to the streets. Some are even pressuring his party's electors in the electoral college to vote against Trump.

Mark Delk was selected to represent North Carolina's 11th district in the electoral college. He told News 13, "I have not been approached."

Delk says the thought that somehow faithless electors could alter this election's outcome is a bit ridiculous.

"I think there have been nine faithless electors in the last hundred years. And so, I'm not going to do it. I'm going to do what I promised I would do," Delk said.

One of those nine faithless electors was a North Carolinian, Republican Dr. Lloyd Bailey of Rocky Mount. He refused to vote for Richard Nixon in 1968, casting his ballot for George Wallace instead.

"So, these are people who essentially don't vote the way they're supposed to go," political science professor Chris Cooper of Western Carolina University said.

Cooper said faithless electors could happen, but the chances of getting Republican electors to vote for Hillary Clinton are extremely unlikely.

"So, a much more likely scenario would be a faithless elector might vote for a Ted Cruz or vote for Marco Rubio. It's extremely unlikely that somebody selected amongst the Republicans, to be a good Republican, would select a Democratic nominee," Cooper explained.

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Buncombe County Republican Party Chairman Nathan West said some electors are promising to break ranks and not vote for Trump.

"There are a few in other states," West said.

That, combined with Trump's own comments about a rigged election, are now renewing calls for electoral college reform.

West said ditching the electoral college would strip smaller states from having any say in the election, allowing states with big cities to decide the race.

"When you look at majoritarianism versus the electoral college, it really doesn't represent what America is," West said.

Delk, a firm believer in the constitution, said the founding fathers knew what they were doing.

"No person holding an office or trust or profit under the United States shall be appointed as an elector," he said. Delk said that creates an electoral college made up of school teachers, stone mason's, plumbers and poets to keep everybody honest.

"Alexander Hamilton said, 'The electoral college is not perfect, but it is at least excellent.' And I think he was right," Delk said.

Trump won with 306 electoral votes to Clinton's 232. If 37 faithless electors came forward, they could keep Trump from reaching 270. In that case, it would then be up to the Republican controlled House of Representatives to decide who's president.

But again, this is all still very unlikely.

If you have a story you'd like investigated, write to RealityCheck@wlos.com.

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