At the time of writing, it looks like Clinton will end up with 232 pledged electoral votes, and Trump with 306. So 37 electors would have to flip just for a tie.

My understanding is that some states have laws binding electors with either fines, criminal penalties, or the right to replace their votes if they don't vote in line with their constituents.

Assume Clinton's best-case-scenario: every elector would vote for her if their state's law permitted it. Are enough electors able to switch to change the outcome of the election?

  • 3
    Do you count fines as "permitted"? Technically, it's permitted, you just have to pay a fee for the privilege.
    – user4012
    Nov 11, 2016 at 1:30
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    A problem with this concept is that electors are party partisans. They might not like Trump, but they wouldn't vote for Clinton as president. They'd vote for Pence or someone like that.
    – Brythan
    Nov 11, 2016 at 3:42
  • 2
    @Brythan Or Ron Paul. :)
    – reirab
    Jan 18, 2017 at 5:56

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's mathematically possible.

Let me explain slowly ...

First, let's clarify which states don't have laws that bind the votes of electors:

Image 1

Now, let's eliminate those states that Clinton won, that leaves us with 155 electoral votes from states that don't bind electors and were won by Trump.

Since, Clinton will simply need 39 electoral votes to win a majority, it's mathematically possible. She doesn't even need all of them to be faithless. If all electors from Texas and Iowa votes for Clinton, then she would already win with 276 electoral votes.

That being said, it doesn't mean that it's feasible, there isn't a large chance of this happening, since 39 out of 538 is more than 7%. Requiring 7% of electors from the electoral college to be faithless is unprecedented.

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    In some states, Trump may have picked his own electors. Even though not legally bound, those electors would be especially unlikely to switch.
    – Brythan
    Nov 11, 2016 at 3:43
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    Even if some electors could theoretically switch, the state legislature can override them Nov 24, 2016 at 18:29

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