Republican electors have been inundated with e-mails, letters, phone calls, and even death threats urging them not to vote for President-elect Donald Trump.
The pressure comes amidst media buzz of “faithless electors” and as the electoral college prepares to convene on Monday, December 19, to cast their votes.
At least one elector, Chris Suprun of Texas, has pledged not to vote for Donald Trump.
“Mr. Trump lacks the foreign policy experience and demeanor needed to be commander in chief,” he penned in a piece for The New York Times.
The idea that enough electors might disregard the wishes of their state’s voters was seized upon by anyone desperate not to see Trump take office in the White House. Mainstream media sources covered these so-called “Hamilton Electors” or “faithless electors” extensively, with Google marking both as breakout search terms since November. A petition urging electoral college members to make Hillary Clinton president has almost 5 million signatures.
The campaign has extended outside of internet petitions and media hypothesizing and into the e-mail, letter, and voice mail inboxes of actual electors. Sharon Geise of Arizona estimates that she has received 8,000 emails, all saying basically the same thing.
“It’s the same thing, pretty much. Basically: Vote for Hillary Clinton. It’s bizarre. I don’t dare answer my phone.”
Pennsylvania, another state that went red this election season, possesses 20 electoral votes and has no law requiring electors to vote for the candidate that won the state. Pennsylvania was the largest state at the center of the recount controversy, where Trump won by less than two percent of the vote. Trump’s win in the Keystone State was considered a key upset–he is the first Republican candidate to flip the state in almost three decades.
Therefore, Pennsylvania electors could not escape the brunt of this election controversy. Elector Ash Kare reports receiving 3,000 to 5,000 requests and demands per day that he become a “faithless elector” and has been assigned a plainsclothes police officer for protection.
Michael Banerian, 22, of Michigan has received death threats. The Detroit News verified a message where the sender promised to “put a bullet” in the young man’s mouth.
Banerian, a political science major and youth vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party, gave an interview via telephone to a reporter from The Detroit News. As Banerian walked to a demonstration on the Oakland University campus with a group of fellow Trump supporters, he told the reporter that he was not afraid of the death threats.
At that moment, an anti-Trump protester attacked the group.
Chris Suprun is still the only elector who has publicly stated that he would not vote for Trump. Harvard law professor Larry Lessig claims 20 Republican electors could flip, but that seems unlikely since electors are chosen specifically for their loyalty to their party.
It’s also not enough to affect Trump’s lead in the electoral college. With 306 votes, he has 36 more votes than the minimum 270 needed to be elected president. Runner-up Hillary Clinton is expected to receive 232 electoral votes, leaving her 38 votes away from the presidency.
Even if Monday’s electoral result comes out dramatically different than what was set on November 9, our Republican controlled Congress is the final arbiter of the vote.
Some electors say the pressure to change their vote has only strengthened their resolve.
South Carolina’s Matt Moore told the Associated Press, “If you don’t like the Electoral College, that’s your right–but America is not some banana republic that ignores election results. We’re better than that.”
Florida elector Christian Ziegler wrote, “Liberals have failed in their attempt to have me ignore the will of the voters of Florida.”
Banerian called the Detroit News reporter back after the incident on campus was resolved.
“The people of Michigan spoke,” he said, “and it’s our job to deliver that message.”
[Featured Image by Jose Juarez/AP Images]