Tensions with members of the electoral college to choose someone other than Donald Trump has increased considerably – and noisily – in recent weeks, triggering some to waver but yielding little proof that Mr. Trump will fall short when electors assemble in most state capitals Monday to cast their votes.
Carole Joyce of Arizona anticipated her role as a GOP elector to be pretty simple: she would meet the others in Phoenix and perform a vote for Mr Trump, who won the most votes in her state and whom she personally backed.
But then arrived the mail and the emails and the phone calls – first hundreds, then thousands of voters stressing that Mr Trump’s impulsive nature would lead the country into another war.
“Honestly, it had an impact,” stated Ms Joyce, a 72-year-old Republican state committee member. “I’ve seen enough funerals. I’m tired of hearing bagpipes. But I signed a loyalty pledge. And that matters.”
Such is the life these days for a lot of the 538 men and women who are scheduled to meet on Monday across the country to execute what has traditionally been a perfunctory vote after most every presidential election.
The role of elector has become more intense this year, in the wake of a nasty election in which Mr. Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by a difference of practically three million votes and the revelation of a secret CIA assessment that Russia caused problems to assist Mr. Trump get elected.
In the midst of the uncertainty triggered by Russian influence, 10 electors – nine Democrats and one Republican – sought after an intelligence briefing to get more details about Moscow’s purpose. Their request was supported by John Podesta, Ms Clinton’s campaign manager.
“The administration should brief members of the electoral college on the extent and manner of Russia’s interference in our election before they vote on Dec. 19,” Mr Podesta published Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated Friday night that it would not brief the electors, because it is active in a presidentially ordered review of the Russian interference. “Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the intelligence community stands ready to brief Congress” and might release results, the ODNI stated in a statement published to its website.
In the mean time, Ms. Joyce and the other 305 Republican electors who are expected to cast their votes for Mr. Trump are already subject to forceful campaigns orchestrated by anti-Trump forces to influence them that they alone can block the reality-television star from the White House.
Many others have targeted Democratic electors, who are expected to cast votes for Ms. Clinton, to convince them to convert to a more conventional Republican who could also draw enough aid from GOP electors to rush into office.
While there is little indication the attempts will prove successful, the push has exposed extreme tension on individual electors, who have now been thrust into a sometimes uncomfortable spotlight.
Ms. Joyce has gotten emails from “Benjamin Franklin” and “John Jay” – and a Christmas card that read: “Please, in the name of God, don’t vote for Trump.”
The rancor about the function of electors began early in the campaign. In August, Baoky Vu, a GOP activist in Atlanta, stated he intended to resign from the job because he was so morally opposed to Mr. Trump. He intended to delay his voting responsibility to someone more willing – an alternate who would be put in place Monday.
Following the election, Mr. Vu began getting phone calls and emails asking him not to step down. He was requested instead to think about joining a coalition of electors hoping to vote in opposition to Mr. Trump. He refused.
“I don’t think we should drag this election out any longer,” Mr. Vu stated. “And can you imagine if the electors overturned the results? If we attempt to change them in any way, you’ve got these far-right elements that are just going to go haywire.”
Mark Hersch, a 60-year-old Chicago-based marketing strategist, joined a crew generally known as the Hamilton Electors, who have been organizing attempts to contact electors and change their minds. Before the election, Mr. Hersch stated, the most political activism he had ever carried out was planting a yard sign.
He stated he believes the aim to deny Mr. Trump appears reachable if not probable. Rather than convince an whole country, he and his allies must get 37 Republicans willing to vote for someone else, a tipping point at which the duty of picking the president would shift to the US House of Representatives. No one knows for certain how many are thinking about alternate votes; estimates vary from one to 25.
The GOP-controlled House could vote for Trump regardless, but those attempting to flip voters point out there is still value in taking a stand. Hersch stated he was motivated to continue to flip electors by the movie “300,” which shows an ancient Spartan army’s stand against a Persian force that outnumbered it 1,000 to 1.
“I would like to think we would be successful, but if not, we need to do all we could to prevent this man from being president,” he stated. Then he changed a line from the movie: “Prepare your breakfast, and eat hearty, for tonight, we will go to battle. This isn’t 300, but 538.”
That “battle” has heightened as electors draw closer to their convening Monday. Joyce was getting 15 letters each day and 300 emails in the days following Nov. 8, but those numbers rapidly enhanced to 50 and 3,000. Some of them have been form letters, others handwritten.
The letters originated from Washington state and from China, packed with duplicates of the U.S. Constitution or Alexander Hamilton’s writing in Federalist Paper No. 68, which expresses that the meeting of the electoral college “affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”
On Thursday, Joyce got so many letters that the letter carrier just gave her a U.S. Postal Service bucket loaded to the brim.
“I’m sorry this is happening to you,” Joyce recalled the letter carrier stating. While some electors have lamented of harassment, Joyce shrugged off the mail and placed it all on a sofa decorated with American flag pillows.
“This is America,” she mentioned in a phone interview. “People have a right to say what they want.” She said most of the messages were thoughtful.
On Friday, she stated, her emails became more positive. The messages were from Republicans, thanking her for taking Trump to the finish line of an difficult process.
“How refreshing!” she stated.
Despite the fact that some Democrats (who have in the past five presidential elections lost two in which they won the popular vote) and even Trump himself have inquired the necessity of the electoral college, many opposing Trump have stated this election demonstrates just how important it is.
Norman Eisen, a ex – ambassador to the Czech Republic who served as legal counsel to both the Bush and Obama administrations, started calling electors to clarify that their job is not necessarily to approve the results but to have a reasonable dialogue over whether the public made the right choice.
In particular, Eisen, who concentrated on government ethics in Obama’s White House, observed that Trump could be violating a clause in the Constitution that inhibits presidents from receiving gifts and funds from foreign governments; it is unsure whether his businesses do because he has not publicly disclosed his tax returns.
In Massachusetts, Republican operative and attorney R.J. Lyman stated he didn’t want to perturb anyone, so he utilized his connections to find electors who were inclined to chat about the lessons he learned in American history class and at the dinner table. He became one of the handful of folks in the country more willing to speak about Hamilton the man than about “Hamilton: An American Musical.”
The electoral college, he stated he tells them, was “not intended to be a rubber stamp.” In any other case, he stated, the Founding Fathers would have tasked the responsibility to a clerk or basically utilized the popular vote as a way of selecting a president.
“I’m reminding them of their duty to think about their choice in a way that’s consistent with their conscience and the Constitution,” Lyman stated.
So far, Lyman explained, he has identified 20 electors who could be willing to vote “other than their party pledge.” He couldn’t name more than one publicly but was adamant that more were out there.
Earlier this month, Chris Suprun of Texas grew to be the first Republican elector in a red state that voted for Trump to state, in a Dec. 5 New York Times column, that he would not cast his electoral vote for Trump. Suprun voted for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the primary and mentioned he left behind his wallet on Election Day and as a result did not vote in the general.
However, Suprun stated, he was inclined to vote for Trump in the electoral college until the candidate stated with no proof that millions of Clinton supporters voted illegally.
Suprun’s public position has elicited death threats and hate mail, he stated.
“As of yesterday, people are calling to say, ‘Get your ass together, or we’re coming for you,’ ” stated Suprun, who was the sole Republican elector to ask for an intelligence briefing on Russia. “They are doing it with their own phone number, not even blocking the number. That’s not been surprising – look at what Trump says himself.”
Vinz Koller, a Democratic elector from Monterey County, Calif., explained he read Suprun’s column and began considering his own role in the college. It motivated him to support a new theory: If he could convince other Democrats to give up their Clinton votes, maybe he and Republicans could concur on a more conventional choice – a la Ohio governor and failed GOP candidate John Kasich – to vote for rather than Trump.
The plan appeared unlikely, he stated, but Trump’s candidacy unsettled him so much that he sensed he needed to attempt anything. California is one of 29 states that mandate electors vote for the candidate who won the state, so Koller sued to carry on his plan.
“Frankly, this is hard and not something I do lightly,” he stated. “I’ve been working in partisan politics a long time, and I don’t like voting against my candidate, but I never thought that the country might be unstable until now.”
On Thursday night, he discovered himself in the Library of Congress. Strolling through its heaps, Koller searched a librarian with one request: Can I view the authentic Federalist Papers?
He looked to find Federalist No. 68, written by Hamilton to explain the need for the electoral college.
“We have been getting a civic lesson we weren’t prepared to get,” Koller stated. “They gave us the fail-safe emergency brake, in case the people got it wrong. And here we are, 200 years later. It’s the last shot we have.”
These People Are A Danger To Themselves And Others! Wake Up!!!!!!
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