The Times-Tribune

State officials brace for increased interest in the proceeding­s.


HARRISBURG — When Pennsylvan­ia’s 58th Electoral College meets today to cast votes for president, it will do so at a time when many more people are paying attention to the obscure process. In a normal presidenti­al election year, the ceremonies take place with little fanfare or public attention. But this year, state officials are providing extra security and bracing for larger crowds and demonstrat­ions after Republican Donald Trump won Pennsylvan­ia, a key statewide victory in an election that saw him behind in the national popular vote but winning the projected electoral vote.

The ceremony

The roughly 90-minute event will take place in the

Pennsylvan­ia House of Representa­tives’ ornate chamber. Seating for the public is limited and is available on a firstcome, first-served basis. Electors will hear from Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, both Democrats. Each of the 20 electors will be called by name to cast their paper ballots for president and vice president. Tellers appointed by the electors — usually party loyalists — will tally the vote.

The electors

The names of the electors are submitted by the candidate’s campaign to the Department of State. Unlike some states, Pennsylvan­ia law does not bind its electors to cast their vote for the presidenti­al candidate who won the state’s popular vote. However, The Associated Press interviewe­d 16 of the 20 electors — a blend of senior members of the Republican Party hierarchy in Pennsylvan­ia, GOP activists or early and ardent Trump loyalists and activists — and found strong support to cast their ballot for Mr. Trump.

Electors include state GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, Pennsylvan­ia’s two national GOP committee people and Ted Christian, who ran the Trump campaign in Pennsylvan­ia. They will choose officers during the ceremony.

The unbound

Nationwide, The Associated Press tried to reach all 538 electors and interviewe­d more than 330 of them, finding widespread Democratic aggravatio­n with the electoral process but little expectatio­n that the hustle of anti-Trump maneuverin­g can derail him. For that to happen, Republican-appointed electors would have to stage an unpreceden­ted defection and Democrats would need to buck tradition, too, by peeling away from Hillary Clinton and swinging behind a consensus candidate in sufficient numbers.

Pennsylvan­ia’s electors — like many nationwide — have been deluged with calls, letters and emails in recent weeks, enough that the state Republican Party made a complaint to the state police. For that reason, security will be tight at the event, state officials say.

Still, the vote by the 20 electors is a secret ballot, making it theoretica­lly possible for an elector to choose someone besides Mr. Trump without detection.

“I just would anticipate that the 20 electors in the commonweal­th would follow what the voters want,” said Bob Asher, an elector and the GOP’s national committeem­an from Pennsylvan­ia. “And they wanted Donald Trump.”

Electoral votes

Pennsylvan­ia has 20 electoral votes, fifth most in the nation, in a tie with Illinois. The number is based on the census and equal to its allocation of U.S. representa­tives and two U.S. senators. The number has been shrinking in recent decades, from a high of 38 in the 1920s, as Pennsylvan­ia’s proportion­ate share of the national population has fallen steadily. It is expected to shrink again after the next census.

Pennsylvan­ia was one of the original 10 states to vote in the first presidenti­al election in 1788, won by George Washington. Mr. Trump’s victory was the first for a Republican in Pennsylvan­ia’s presidenti­al contest since 1988.

Mr. Trump beat Mrs. Clinton by just over 44,000 votes out of more than 6 million cast, or by less than 1 percent.

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