Politics

No Major Suprises As Electors Make Trump Win Official

| by Nik Bonopartis

Despite several weeks of drama and impassioned pleas to vote against their states' directives, the nation's electors moved to certify President-elect Donald Trump's Nov. 8 victory and make it official.

As of late afternoon on Dec. 19, the rebellion some had predicted had not materialized, and it looked as if Trump's victory would be confirmed without any unforeseen developments.

Despite intense pressure on electors and predictions of "faithless electors" turning on Trump, the only surprises came when two electors -- one from Maine and the other from Minnesota -- moved to vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders instead of former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported. The Minnesota elector was replaced by an alternate who voted for Clinton.

“I cast my Electoral College vote for Bernie Sanders today to let those new voters who were inspired by him know that some of us did hear them, did listen to them, do respect them and understand their disappointment,” Maine elector David Bright wrote, according to the Portland Press-Herald.

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The small backlash against Clinton was a reminder of the contentious Democratic primary that preceded the general election, and later revelations that the Clinton campaign had accepted debate questions ahead of time and colluded with the national party to defeat Sanders.

Nationwide, demonstrators took to statehouses and capitols in several states as members of the Electoral College gathered to cast their votes.

In Pennsylvania, protesters chanted and held large printed caricatures of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the state capitol in Harrisburg, while demonstrators in Michigan used a loudspeaker to implore electors to "vote their conscience" and cast votes for Clinton instead of Trump, according to The New York Times.

In the lead up to the Dec. 19 vote, some electors were heavily pressured to defy the will of the voters they represent and either vote for Clinton or avoid voting for Trump. A Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig, had offered free legal advice to Republican electors considering going against Trump, and Lessig claimed as many as 30 Republicans could defect.

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Only one Republican, Chris Suprun of Texas, signaled his intent not to vote for Trump, comparing the president-elect to "Star Wars" villain Darth Vader in a New York Times editorial earlier in December.
Suprun, a paramedic and member of the Texas GOP, said reports of Russian interference in the election motivated him to cast his vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won few delegates but doggedly stayed in the primary race after other Republican candidates had dropped out.

“I’m gravely concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped Trump win the Republican primary,” Suprun said in the op-ed. “In light of the mounting evidence of foreign influence undermining our election, delegates to the Electoral College should have been briefed by the CIA.”

Celebrities did their part to pressure electors as well, with actors Martin Sheen and Deborah Messing leading a cast of actors and musicians in a video imploring "brave Republican electors" to stop Trump's victory from becoming official. Sheen and others also filmed personalized videos, which they sent to individual electors, The Telegraph reported.

Others were more aggressive, reportedly sending hate mail and death threats to electors. Among them was Jim Rhoades, a Republican elector from Michigan who said his home inspection business has been impacted by people looking to pressure him into changing his vote.

“I never can imagine harassing people like this," Rhoades said. “I’ve lost a bunch of business.”

While determined protesters braved frigid temperatures in states like Minnesota -- which Trump won by only 11,000 votes -- others showed up even in traditionally red states that were carried easily by the Republican businessman. In Atlanta and Nashville, the state capitols of Georgia and Tennessee, respectively, crowds assembled and tried to influence the voting.

While the voting continued in the absence of any major push against Trump by electors, Columbia University political scientist Robert Erikson said he didn't anticipate any surprises.

"If it's in the works," Erikson told Reuters, "it sure has been a secret plot."

Sources: Reuters, CNN, The New York Times, The Telegraph, Fort Worth Star-Telegram / Photo credit: Elvert Barnes/Wikimedia Commons

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