Assume, though, that this doesn’t happen, and that somehow defecting votes are sent to Washington. There’s still the pesky matter of the United States Congress—the final arbiter of these votes.
On January 6, senators and representatives will gather in joint session in the House chamber to receive the votes of the states, with the vice president presiding (that’s why Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Al Gore all presided over the ceremony that declared them the losers). They meet to decide whether the votes of each state were “regularly given.” If one senator and one House member objects in writing to the announced vote, the two houses retire to their respective chambers to debate the issue. Is there any basis to believe that a GOP-controlled House and Senate would accept the vote of a defecting elector as “regularly given”? (They have in the past, but in those cases, the stray vote or two had no impact at all on the outcome.)
And even if this process somehow left Trump short of 270 votes, the decision would then move to the House of Representatives. In that body, each state—not each representative—would have one vote (to be determined by a majority of the delegation). In a remarkably undemocratic process, Wyoming’s one member would have the same power as the 53 from California. To become president, a candidate would need a majority of state delegations, or 26. In the new House, Republicans will hold a majority in 30-plus delegations. Do the math. (The Senate would get to choose the vice president, with each senator having one vote; my money would be on Pence).