A month-long crusade to persuade three of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's 271 hard-won electors to switch sides still could make Vice President Al Gore president.
In his concession speech Wednesday, Mr. Gore assured Americans that the Electoral College would ratify Mr. Bush as president-elect when electors meet Monday in 50 state capitals and in the District of Columbia.
But there is nothing in the law or Constitution that can prevent "faithless electors" from deserting their candidate. That has sparked speculation since November, when a veteran Democratic operative said that he was "trying to kidnap" Bush electors who might be willing to switch to Mr. Gore.
And in the five weeks since Election Day, tens of thousands of e-mails, letters and phone calls bombarded 172 Bush electors as a result of an Internet campaign engineered by two California college students, who say the popular vote should prevail over the Electoral College.
"I think this is exactly the kind of situation where the Founders, who originated the Electoral College, might want unbound electors to exercise discretion," said Beverly Ross, of Coral Gables, Fla., co-author of an Electoral College study cited twice in Tuesday's Supreme Court decision in the case of Bush vs. Gore.
There is precedent for mass defection as recently as 1960, when six Alabama electors who signed pledges to Sen. John F. Kennedy voted for Sen. Harry Byrd, Virginia Democrat, under a segregationist plan hatched by a Montgomery, Ala., lawyer who …