Trump foes try to beat him at Elec­toral Col­lege

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD - By Kimberlee Kruesi and Bill Bar­row

BOISE, IDAHO >> Grass­roots cam­paigns have sprung up around the coun­try to try to per­suade mem­bers of the Elec­toral Col­lege to do some­thing that has never been done in Amer­i­can his­tory — deny the pres­i­dency to the clear Elec­tion Day win­ner.

Ac­tivists are cir­cu­lat­ing on­line pe­ti­tions and us­ing so­cial me­dia in hopes of in­flu­enc­ing Repub­li­can elec­tors to cast their bal­lots for some­one other than Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and de­prive him of the 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes needed to be­come the next oc­cu­pant of the White House.

“Yes, I think it’s a long­shot, but I also think we’re liv­ing in strange times,” said Daniel Brezenoff, who cre­ated a pe­ti­tion in fa­vor of Hil­lary Clin­ton and is ask­ing sign­ers to lobby elec­tors by email or phone. “If it was ever plau­si­ble, it’s this year.”

Trump has won 290 elec­toral votes to Clin­ton’s 232, with Michi­gan un­de­cided, but Clin­ton is on pace to win the pop­u­lar vote by at least 1 mil­lion bal­lots. Trump’s op­po­nents are mo­ti­vated by the out­come of the pop­u­lar vote and by their con­tention that the busi­ness­man and re­al­ity TV star is un­fit to serve as com­man­der in chief.

Just one elec­tor so far has wa­vered pub­licly on sup­port­ing Trump.

Texas Repub­li­can Art Sis­neros says he has reser­va­tions about the pres­i­dent-elect, but not be­cause of the national pop­u­lar vote. He told The As­so­ci­ated Press he won’t vote for Clin­ton un­der any cir­cum­stance.

“As a Chris­tian, I came to the con­clu­sion that Mr. Trump is not bib­li­cally qual­i­fied for that of­fice,” he said.

He said he has heard from ec­static Clin­ton sup­port­ers and even sup­port­ive Repub­li­cans, but also from out­raged Trump back­ers writ­ing “threat­en­ing and vile things.”

Sis­neros signed a state party pledge to sup­port the GOP’s stan­dard-bearer, but that was be­fore Trump was the of­fi­cial nom­i­nee. He said one of his op­tions is to re­sign, al­low­ing the state party to choose another elec­tor.

Elec­tors are cho­sen by party of­fi­cials and are typ­i­cally the party’s most loyal mem­bers. Pres­i­den­tial elec­tors are not re­quired to vote for a par­tic­u­lar can­di­date un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion. Even so, the National Archives says more than 99 per­cent of elec­tors have voted as pledged through­out the na­tion’s his­tory.

Some state laws call for fines against “faith­less elec­tors,” while oth­ers open them to pos­si­ble felony charges, although the National Archives says no elec­tor has ever been pros­e­cuted for fail­ing to vote as pledged. In North Carolina, a faith­less elec­tor’s vote is can­celed, and he or she must im­me­di­ately re­sign and be re­placed.

Layne Bangerter and Melinda Smyser, two of Idaho’s four Repub­li­can elec­tors, said they have been flooded with emails, tele­phone calls and Face­book mes­sages from strangers urg­ing them to re­con­sider their vote.

“It’s just not go­ing to work,” Bangerter said. “I hope it dies down, but I don’t see that hap­pen­ing.”

The vol­ume and tone of the mes­sages caught the at­ten­tion of Idaho’s sec­re­tary of state, who urged the pub­lic to re­main civil as elec­tors pre­pare to cast their bal­lots on Dec. 19 while meet­ing in their states.

Repub­li­can Party of­fi­cials in Ge­or­gia and Michi­gan said their elec­tors also have been bom­barded with mes­sages, and Iowa re­ported in­creased pub­lic in­ter­est in ob­tain­ing con­tact in­for­ma­tion for elec­tors.

Michael Bane­r­ian, 22, one of Michi­gan’s 16 Repub­li­can elec­tors, said he has re­ceived death threats from peo­ple who do not want him to vote for Trump. But he said he is un­de­terred.

“It’s mostly just a lot of an­gry peo­ple who don’t com­pletely un­der­stand how the process works,” said Bane­r­ian, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence ma­jor at Oak­land Univer­sity.

P. Bret Chi­afalo, a Demo­cratic elec­tor in Washington state, said he and a

small group of other elec­tors from the party are work­ing to con­tact their Repub­li­can coun­ter­parts and ask them to vote for any GOP can­di­date be­sides Trump, prefer­ably Mitt Rom­ney or John Ka­sich.

Un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, the House — cur­rently un­der Repub­li­can con­trol — de­cides the pres­i­dency if no can­di­date reaches the re­quired elec­toral vote ma­jor­ity. House mem­bers choose from the top three con­tenders.

This isn’t the first time elec­tors have faced pres­sure to undo the re­sults of Elec­tion Day.

Ca­role Jean Jor­dan, a GOP elec­tor from Florida

in 2000, re­called the “un­be­liev­ably ugly” af­ter­math of the re­count bat­tle be­tween Ge­orge W. Bush and then-vice pres­i­dent Al Gore, a dis­pute that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court leav­ing Bush’s slim mar­gin in­tact and hand­ing him the pres­i­dency.

Jor­dan said Florida’s elec­tors were in­un­dated with nasty let­ters from peo­ple say­ing they should not vote for Bush. Po­lice kept watch over her home un­til the elec­tors con­vened in Tal­la­has­see to cast their votes. They stayed at the same ho­tel, guarded by se­cu­rity of­fi­cers who also es­corted them to cast their bal­lots at the state Capi­tol.

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