Starting at just before 9am people began to congregate outside the Rhode Island State House, holding signs calling on the Electoral College to reject Donald Trump as President of the United States and instead elect… anyone else. The freezing, windy weather did not seem to frighten people off. Those I talked to felt it was their patriotic duty to be there – to call for sanity in the face of a election gone terribly wrong.
The event was organized by a coalition of national groups including Democracy Spring, Americans Take Action, Electoral College Petition, and Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Actions similar to the one in Rhode Island are planned in all 50 states. A few electors, alarmed by Trump’s unpresidential demeanor, have said they may vote for a different candidate. It was hoped by many that news about Russian interference in the recent election would be enough to catalyst a sea change among electors, but that catalyst never materialized, so barring some extraordinary occurrence, Donald Trump will win the electoral college today, with results being officially announced on January 6.
In Rhode Island, all four electors, Clay Pell, Frank Montanaro, Susan Weiner and Grace Diaz, are pledged to Hillary Clinton, but none of those protesting outside seemed to think that meant they could stay inside where it was warm. The point was to make a point. Chants of “No Trump! No Trump!” filled the air. Drivers passed the protesters beeping their horns and shouting encouragement. One or two shouted unintelligible support for Trump, but sped away quickly, their behavior seemingly more trolling than genuine.
The actual electoral college vote, to be held inside the House of Representative’s chamber in the State House from 12-1pm, is expected to draw an unusually large crowd today. The Electoral College is thought of as a archaic, rubber-stamping institution, and most have never seen the process. But today is a historic, hopefully once in a lifetime event, and for good or for ill, no matter the outcome, a lot of us feel the need to bear witness.