Vir­ginia elec­tors wary of process

Most mem­bers see need for changes.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH RANKIN

RICH­MOND | Vir­ginia’s Demo­cratic mem­bers of the Elec­toral Col­lege are all strong sup­port­ers of Hil­lary Clin­ton. What they’re less sure of is the process they will be a part of this week.

On Mon­day, the elec­tors will meet at the Vir­ginia Capi­tol to cast their votes for the next pres­i­dent of the United States. Usu­ally a cer­e­mo­nial step in the road to the pres­i­dency, this year’s meet­ing of the Elec­toral Col­lege has drawn in­tense scru­tiny af­ter an es­pe­cially di­vi­sive cam­paign and with Hil­lary Clin­ton lead­ing the pop­u­lar vote but trail­ing Don­ald Trump in elec­toral votes.

Mr. Trump won 306 elec­toral votes on in the Nov. 8 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, eas­ily enough to make him pres­i­dent.

In in­ter­views with The Associated Press ahead of their meet­ing, the ma­jor­ity of Vir­ginia’s elec­tors ex­pressed sup­port for chang­ing the Elec­toral Col­lege, an orig­i­nal fea­ture of the Con­sti­tu­tion, though they were di­vided on how to go about do­ing so.

None re­ported re­ceiv­ing the bar­rage of phone calls and emails that some Repub­li­can elec­tors in other states have ex­pe­ri­enced af­ter cam­paigns sprung up to try to per­suade elec­tors to deny Mr. Trump the pres­i­dency. And all but one said with cer­tainty that they plan to cast their vote for Mrs. Clin­ton.

Jasper Hen­dricks III, a 38-year-old po­lit­i­cal strate­gist from the Far­mville area, said that while he “most likely” will vote for Mrs. Clin­ton, he is con­sid­er­ing other op­tions as a form of pub­lic protest about changes he thinks are needed in the Demo­cratic Party.

Democrats are over­look­ing peo­ple of color, de­spite the fact that they’re an im­por­tant vot­ing bloc for the party, he said. Mr. Hen­dricks said he thinks Democrats need to make an ef­fort to hire more black staffers and said he won­dered if his po­si­tion as an elec­tor could be a way to force the party to con­sider the is­sue.

Such a move would be un­usual. Elec­tors are usu­ally the party’s most faith­ful mem­bers, and ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Ar­chives, through­out the na­tion’s his­tory, more than 99 per­cent of elec­tors have voted as pledged. And only a hand­ful of those so-called “faith­less elec­tors” have been in the mod­ern era.

Of the state’s 13 elec­tors, eight ei­ther said the Elec­toral Col­lege should be changed or changes should be con­sid­ered.

Terry Frye, an elec­tor from Bris­tol, where he’s an at­tor­ney, min­is­ter and the city’s commissioner of rev­enue, said he sup­ports a re­form plan called the Na­tional Pop­u­lar vote In­ter­state Com­pact in which elec­tors would be bound to cast their bal­lot for the win­ner of the pop­u­lar vote.

“If we con­tinue to have this sit­u­a­tion where the loser of the pop­u­lar vote can win the elec­tion, it un­der­mines the con­fi­dence of the Amer­i­can peo­ple in the demo­cratic process,” he said.

Mrs. Clin­ton would be the fifth can­di­date in the na­tion’s his­tory to win the pop­u­lar vote but lose the pres­i­dency.

Just one of Vir­ginia’s elec­tors said the in­sti­tu­tion should be kept as it is.

Jeanette Sarver, an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant from Dublin, said she thinks the Elec­toral Col­lege prop­erly bal­ances the in­ter­ests of large and small states.

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