Members of the Electoral College will meet December 19 to place their votes for the president and vice president positions. The members of the Electoral College’s votes are supposed to be for the winner of the popular votes within their own state. Occasionally, we will hear of a faithless elector that chooses to vote in opposition to the executive pair that they are pledged to cast their votes for.
In many states, being a faithless elector is illegal, and the penalties are determined by state law. This year, after Hillary Clinton was reported to have won the popular vote of the entire nation, many GOP electors were flooded with calls and messages to betray their oaths and vote for Clinton instead, partially in response to a social media campaign and online petition encouraging them to do so.
For example, one of Michigan’s 16 electors who were called upon to cast a vote for Donald Trump, after he won the popular vote in the state of Michigan, testified on video that he and his fellow electors in the Great Lakes state have received dozens upon dozens of threats, including death threats, from Hillary Clinton’s supporters demanding the electors to switch their electoral votes to Clinton. Michael Banerian, of Oakland County, Michigan, told the Detroit News that emails he has gotten have been threatening.
The Michigan Republican Party even said that Clinton supporters “deluged Banerian and other GOP electors with pleas and nasty emails to reverse course and cast their ballots for Clinton.”
“You have people saying ‘you’re a hateful bigot, I hope you die,'” Michael Banerian told the Detroit News. “I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive.”
Not all of the intimidating emails were threats though, some were merely death wishes, he said. One instructed him to “do society a favor” and throw himself in front of a bus.
“I’ve just gotten a lot of ‘you’re a hateful bigot and I hope you die,’ which is kind of ironic,” Banerian said, “that they’re calling me hateful and yet wishing for my death. They don’t even know me.”
Detroit News reported that it did actually verify a death wish and a death threat sent to the Michigan electors.
Banerian says those threatening him would not be able to intimidate him. He would not break his oath. He also said that if he attempted to, Michigan law would invalidate his vote anyway, and he would be replaced.
“Even if I could, I wouldn’t be remotely interested in changing my vote. The people of Michigan spoke, and it’s our job to deliver that message.”
He also called upon Americans to respect the process established in the Constitution.
“Americans don’t assault each other for political differences. Americans don’t get in each other’s faces, spit on people, try to throw them to the ground. That’s not what Americans are all about. In many ways both sides have contributed to a lot of anger, and much of it well founded, but, I just ask everyone to act like an American. Americans’ don’t do this stuff. We don’t send death threats, we don’t beat each other up for political differences, that’s not what Americans are about, and Americans that have done that throughout history have been cast out of our society, and rightfully so. We don’t act like that so I just ask that we all live up to the responsibility of being Americans.”
An online petition on Change.org signed by millions has called on the nation’s 538 electors, Detroit News reported. The Change.org petition urged Republican electors to go rogue and vote with the popular vote of the country rather than with the statewide popular votes of the voters they represent.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a statement telling Georgians to stop using threatening and disparaging language to attempt to manipulate electors.
“The Presidential election is over but, unfortunately, the vitriol remains. Our office has received numerous reports of individuals hurling insults and threats at Georgia’s Electors because they are unsettled with America’s choice for President of the United States. This is absolutely unacceptable and those participating in or encouraging these efforts should stop.”
The #NotMyPresident Alliance reportedly released the personal information of many GOP Electoral College members. The spreadsheet allegedly included the electors’ personal phone numbers, addresses, religions, races, genders, and candidate preference, according to BuzzFeed. The anti-Trump group spreading the information claims the information was not meant to be used to help people threaten electors.
“The point was to collect as a tool for peaceful action,” Jon Gedney, the spokesperson of #NotMyPresident and one of its lead organizers, said. “The whole thing is we’re fighting against someone who’s contentious and hateful. No one in our group is going to use it for nefarious purposes.”
In response to the threats, members of Oath Keepers offered to provide voluntary protection to any electors who felt they were in danger.
“Oath Keepers is hereby issuing a standing offer of volunteer protection to any of the Electoral College Electors who may feel threatened or in danger from leftist radicals attempting to coerce them into changing their vote as Electors.”
Members of Tennessee’s Electoral College delegation reportedly told the Tennessean that they were getting a couple hundred emails or phone calls each day. Electoral College member Pat Allen said she did consider the content of the emails to constitute harassment and that she would not alter her vote.
“Why in goodness name would I not represent my constituents?”
Lynne Davis, another member of the Electoral College delegation in that state, said there was nothing that could convince her to become a faithless elector and fail to fulfill her duty to represent the popular vote in her state.
“There’s no amount of money you could pay me to (change my vote).”
Though the electors will meet in December, December 28 is the statutory deadline for the designated officials to receive the electoral votes. The members who won seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will meet in a joint session in early January at which the results of the Electoral College delegation’s voting will be made public.
Idaho’s Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said that if the presidential election had been different, the presidential electors “would be from a different party and would still deserve the same respect.” Denney said that the members of the Electoral College don’t deserve to be mistreated and threatened “just because that person doesn’t agree with the outcome of the election.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that the Electoral College meets on November 19. Though the link to the National Archives is correct, the month was erroneous. The Electoral College meets in their individual states on December 19. The writer of this article sincerely apologizes for the error.
[Featured Image by Maret Hosemann/Pixabay Public Domain]