Republican members of the Electoral College are facing pressure, harassment and even death threats as disgruntled opponents of President-elect Donald Trump mount a last-ditch push to keep him out of the White House.
The electors are slated to meet Dec. 19 in their home states to make the Nov. 8 election results official, which is normally a formality — but not this year.
Texas Republican Alex Kim said he and his fellow electors have been inundated with emails and phone calls from those urging them to consider switching their votes for Mr. Trump to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“At first, everyone was kind of enchanted by it,” Mr. Kim told NBC5 in Dallas-Fort Worth.” Now all the electors are starting to get beaten down. There are some electors who have been threatened with harm or with death.”
Michael Banerian, a Michigan elector and youth chairman of the state Republican Party, said he has received several messages threatening violence.
“You have people saying, ‘You’re a hateful bigot, I hope you die,’” Mr. Banerian told The Detroit News. “I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive.”
In Idaho, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney issued a statement last week calling on Trump foes to stop harassing the state’s four electors.
“While there is no federal requirement binding electors to their pledge, and while Idaho is one of 21 states that does not have state-level legislation to force an elector to comply, attempting to sway an elector’s commitment to their party through insults, vulgar language, or threats simply lacks civility,” Mr. Denney said.
“These are people who have volunteered to represent our state and their party in a process that goes back to the founding of our nation,” he said. “If the presidential election had been different, the presidential electors would be from a different party and would still deserve the same respect. They don’t deserve to be mistreated by someone just because that person doesn’t agree with the outcome of the election.”
Electors are typically party stalwarts who hardly ever break ranks, but opponents of Mr. Trump argue that this year’s election calls for desperate measures.
A Change.org petition that has gathered 4.5 million signatures maintains that Mrs. Clinton deserves the presidency because she appears to have received more votes nationwide and that Mr. Trump is “unfit to serve” as a result of factors such as his “utter lack of experience.”
Meanwhile, two Democratic electors are spearheading a movement called #HamiltonElectors to persuade Republican Electoral College members to dump Mr. Trump in favor of a moderate Republican.
It’s a long shot, but the Democrats from Colorado and Washington state hope to persuade 270 electors — Democrats and Republicans — to reject the will of the voters in order to avoid a Trump presidency.
“We support Alexander Hamilton’s vision: that Electors be free to vote their conscience for the good of America,” tweeted the group, referring to the Founding Father.
At least one Republican elector has blinked: In Georgia, Baoky Vu was replaced shortly after he said in August that he might not be able to support Mr. Trump, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Georgia’s 16 Republican electors have been bombarded with requests to change their votes to Mrs. Clinton, but the Republicans are holding firm.
“I’m getting deluged,” Michael McNeely, an elector and vice chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, told the Journal-Constitution. “But for all the efforts of those sending those out, there’s no wavering at all. I’m fully supporting Donald Trump, and I’m not concerned any of us will flip.”
While 24 states bind their electors to the winning candidate, little can be done to punish “faithless electors” after the fact other than impose fines.
There have been only 157 faithless electors in U.S. history, and none has changed the outcome of a presidential election by voting against the party’s nominee, Mr. Denney said.
Mr. Kim and Mr. Banerian said there is no chance they will heed the pleas of Democrats and abandon Mr. Trump.
“When people ask me to vote for Hillary Clinton, there’s no way,” Mr. Kim said. “I reject the Democratic Party principles, and I reject Hillary Clinton.”
Said Mr. Banerian, a senior at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan: “Even if I could, I wouldn’t be remotely interested in changing my vote. The people of Michigan spoke, and it’s our job to deliver that message.”