Virginia electors wary of process
Most members see need for changes.
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.