Electors inundated by emotional pleas to abandon Trump
The message on Carol Side’s voicemail went from unusual to disturbing as the stranger who left it implored and begged her to vote for Hillary Clinton.
The man said he was relaying the message straight from God, who was calling on the 538 members set to ratify Donald Trump’s victory to do the right thing by ignoring the results of the Electoral College. Then things went off the rails. “He started uncontrollably crying on the phone, and in order to delete it, you had to listen to the whole message,” Ms. Side said. “The words were over, and I think it went on for another two minutes with him sobbing. He went in with a normal voice to someone who lost it completely.”
More than a month after Mr. Trump’s election victory Nov. 8, Clinton supporters and anti-Trump forces are struggling to come to grips with the outcome, and their frustration has manifested itself into a last-ditch attempt to convince electors that they can and should block Mr. Trump from the White House.
The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College as a compromise between having presidents elected by Congress or by popular vote.
Under the system, each state gets one elector for each of its members of Congress. The ballots cast on Election Day are actually for a slate of electors, who in turn are pledged to vote for president and vice president based on the popular results in their states.
Critics say the system cuts against the idea of “one person, one vote” and gives smaller states an outsized role. They also say it robbed Al Gore of a victory over George W. Bush in the 2000 election and now has done the same to Mrs. Clinton, who earned more than 3 million votes than Mr. Trump but lost the Electoral College by a 306-232 margin.
As electors prepare to assemble in state capitals across the country, their names, email addresses and phone numbers are circulating online. They are being inundated with messages — and in some cases threats. The messages also urge them to consider that Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote and argue that the Electoral College is flawed and outdated.
Wyck Seelig of Michigan, who has received over 45,000 emails, said, “They are all pleading for us to not vote for Trump.
“It is sort of not surprising,” he said. “Secretary Clinton ran a campaign that said it would be the worst thing in the world and perhaps the world would come to an end if Donald Trump became president, and of the 60 million that voted for her it is not surprising that a tenth of the people that supported her would believe her — and they are scared.”
History shows that electors typically cast their votes based on the outcome in their respective states — though some have gone rogue over the years.
FairVote, a nonpartisan group that works to expand the vote, has identified 157 instances since the Electoral College was established in 1787 in which “faithless electors” have not voted for their party’s candidate.
In a New York Times op-ed this month, Chris Suprun, a Texas elector, made it clear that he plans to join the “faithless” crowd by announcing he would not back Mr. Trump.
“The election of the next president is not yet a done deal,” Mr. Suprun said. “Electors of conscience can still do the right thing for the good of the country. Presidential electors have the legal right and a constitutional duty to vote their conscience.”
Mr. Suprun suggested Ohio Gov. John Kasich as an alternative to Mr. Trump.
If the past is a predictor of the future, these sorts of efforts are doomed. No body of electors has overturned an election outcome.
Bruce Ash of Arizona still plans to support Mr. Trump after receiving 50,000 emails, mostly protests of a Trump presidency. He said the emails cost him money by clogging up the work account.
“I believe I am bound to vote the will of Arizona voters, and even though Mrs. Clinton lost in Arizona, there are tons of people here in Arizona. And I also have emails from New York, Maryland, Maine, California, Washington, Texas and Colorado that are saying, ‘Forget about the Constitution, we ought to have a popular election here in the country and Mrs. Clinton won the election by 2 million votes,’” Mr. Ash said.
Tony Ledbetter, chairman of the Volusia County Republican Party in Florida, said he has figured out a way to cope with the more than 71,000 emails and over 10 phone calls per day: He no longer reads or listens to them.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Mr. Ledbetter said. “I am more relaxed today than I have been in 20 years because I know we have elected the right person, and he is going to save the country.”