Hundreds of protesters march in downtown Seattle as they protest the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. A day after Trump’s election as president, the divisions he exposed only showed signs of widening as many thousands of protesters flooded streets across the country to condemn him. Ted S. Warren AP
Hundreds of protesters march in downtown Seattle as they protest the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. A day after Trump’s election as president, the divisions he exposed only showed signs of widening as many thousands of protesters flooded streets across the country to condemn him. Ted S. Warren AP

Elections

Pennsylvania presidential electors to receive police protection before vote Monday, report says

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

December 18, 2016 07:39 PM

UPDATED December 19, 2016 03:39 AM

They’re getting thousands of letters, emails and phone calls each day. Some even say they received death threats. And come Monday, they’ll choose the next president of the United States.

Being a member of the Electoral College used to be a relatively anonymous position. But in this election, it’s become one of the most highly scrutinized, pressure-filled and threatened positions in politics.

According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Inquirer, it’s gotten so dangerous, Pennsylvania’s electors have been assigned a police officer for protection.

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Understanding the Electoral College: 'A process not a place'

Devised in 1787, the purpose of the Electoral College was a compromise to set a balance between those who wanted the popular vote to determine the election and those who didn't want public input. The number of Congress members a state has is how many electoral votes that state gets. The 2016 election is the fifth time that the Electoral College has resulted in a split verdict of one candidate winning the popular vote and the other the electoral vote – the latter being the one that decides the presidency.

AP

That’s what Ash Khare told the newspapers ahead of Monday’s vote, which is widely expected to go as predicted and officially elevate Republican Donald Trump to the presidency. The Associated Press reached out to all 538 electors and found just one who had decided not to vote for Trump despite winning the elector’s state.

Khare said up to 5,000 people reach out to him every day, begging him to vote for anyone other than Trump, despite the fact that Pennsylvania went to him by 1.2 percentage points.

“I’m a big boy,” Khare said. “But this is stupid. Nobody is standing up and telling these people, ‘Enough, knock it off.’”

With the shocking win of Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8, many liberals have turned to the Electoral College in a last-ditch effort to deny Trump the presidency. An online petition has nearly 5 million signatures. A GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds to lobby electors has amassed more than $250,000.

Khare is far from the only elector to report immense pressure from activists and protesters. Fox News interviewed an Arizona elector, Ed Robson, who said he and his family had been threatened. Chris Suprun, a Texas elector who has said he will not vote for Trump, told ABC News that he received a letter whose author threatened to kill him and rape his wife and daughters. Michael Banerian, a Michigan elector, told CNN he has received multiple death threats from people who want him to vote for Clinton.

Even people who aren’t electors but are close to them are coming under fire. Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor who established the Electors Trust, a group devoted to offering legal advice to this year’s electors, said he has spent $20,000 on protection for lawyers in the group who have received threats, according to The Gothamist.

The District of Columbia and 29 states have laws in place designed to punish so-called faithless electors who go against their state’s results. But Pennsylvania, which has 20 electors, does not, which means voters like Khare are the prime candidates to switch their votes for protesters. Harrisburg, Penn., where the state electors will gather Monday, will also host protesters as well, according to USA Today.

But by all accounts, Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the country, will merely make things official Monday.

“There is zero chance,” elector Lawrence Tabas told the Post-Gazette of any defections in Pennsylvania. “If you want to place a bet on that in Vegas, you can make enough money to retire.”