Elections

Electoral College: Will Texas voters waver in support for Donald Trump?

Trump vows to be a president for all Americans

Donald Trump delivered his victory speech from his election night event at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan. It was a long-fought presidential election after declaring his candidacy June 16, 2015, and later telling supporters that he would
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Donald Trump delivered his victory speech from his election night event at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan. It was a long-fought presidential election after declaring his candidacy June 16, 2015, and later telling supporters that he would

Alex Kim has been feeling the pressure since Election Day.

The 43-year-old Bedford attorney has been weeding through a bombardment of more than 15,000 emails, not to mention a number of phone calls and letters, that he’s received from voters since Election Day.

Democrats across the country are swamping his email account, hoping to convince Kim — one of the 538 members of this year’s Electoral College — to not vote for Republican President-elect Donald Trump, particularly as Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote continues to climb, passing the 2 million mark.

Kim skims through all the emails, many prompted by online petitions, noting that they generally have one of three requests: vote for Clinton, vote his conscience or vote for anybody except Trump or Clinton, with the hope of sending the election decision to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The one theme I see in every single email is an absolute sense of desperation,” he said. “It’s an absolute Hail Mary pass.”

Kim is far from alone.

Many of those casting electoral votes in Texas and across the country are being overwhelmed with similar requests — some polite, some not.

Some electors have been threatened.

Some are having a hard time sleeping.

“Nobody had any clue it would turn out like this,” Kim said.

Federal law states that Electoral College voters meet the Monday after the second Wednesday of December. So, across the country, 538 Electoral College voters will cast their votes in their state capitols on Dec. 19.

The 38 Texas electors will gather in the Texas House of Representatives chamber in Austin at 2 p.m. Dec. 19.

That day, Kim will be among the 38 Texas Republicans — one from each congressional district and two elected statewide — gathering in the Texas House of Representatives chamber for what is typically a quiet ceremony to cast their electoral votes. They all have pledged to give their vote to Trump, who won the majority vote in Texas.

After the votes have been cast here and in all the other states, the ballots will be sent to Vice President Joe Biden, who will read them to both houses of Congress on Jan. 6, unless Congress changes the date. Once Biden reads the results to Congress, the results are official and final and plans then focus on the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Kim said he stands firm with his vote, which will go to Trump.

And while he admits the emails, letters and phone calls are a bit overwhelming, he says “that’s the sound of liberty.”

“It’s the right to petition and I absolutely welcome it,” he said. “It’s definitely an inconvenience, but if that’s the price I’m paying to make sure the process is open and transparent, what a small price to pay.”

A wavering elector?

Art Sisneros is among the Texas electors who signed a pledge promising to vote for the GOP presidential nominee.

But the 40-year-old Dayton industrial salesman isn’t sure how he will vote on Dec. 19.

Does he uphold the pledge? Does he break the pledge because he doesn’t believe Trump is Biblically qualified to be president?

Or does he resign as elector?

If any presidential elector in Texas chooses to resign, officials say a replacement would be chosen by the State Republican Executive Committee during their Dec. 1-2 meeting.

If Sisneros — or any presidential elector in Texas — chooses to resign, GOP officials say a replacement would be chosen by the State Republican Executive Committee during their meeting scheduled for Dec. 1-2.

As he tries to figure out what to do, promising to make a decision well before the Dec. 19 vote, Sisneros said he has gotten death threats and is having a hard time sleeping.

“This has been weighing very, very heavily on me, as someone very principled in my faith,” Sisneros said. “I’m weighing the implications.”

Other electors say it’s also weighing on them, but several contacted by the Star-Telegram say they don’t plan to switch their vote.

Landon M. Estay admits Trump was never his first choice to be president.

But during the Republican Party of Texas state convention in Dallas, Estay signed a pledge promising to support the Republican presidential nominee.

“While Trump was my last choice, I made a promise to the party,” said Estay, a 34-year-old tax accountant from The Woodlands. “If I could not fulfill that promise, I would not have sought out this opportunity.”

A call for change

Countless Americans who supported Clinton have signed online petitions calling for electors to switch their votes and deny Trump the presidency — or at least throw the election to the House of Representatives to decide.

There, some suggest, members might find “a less odious Republican, or even the 3rd-place vote-getter, Libertarian candidate ... Gary Johnson,” one petition states.

Republican Electors, your party has saved us from Hillary Clinton; please have the courage now to stand up and save us from Donald Trump.

A petition on change.org

“Republican Electors, your party has saved us from Hillary Clinton; please have the courage now to stand up and save us from Donald Trump,” a petition on change.org states. “Do you really want this unstable, thin-skinned man with his finger on the nuclear button!? In the name of humanity, we the undersigned ask you, Republican Electors, please vote your consciences. Please do not vote to make Donald Trump president of the United States!”

The last time the Electoral College fell under such scrutiny was in 2000, when George W. Bush won 271-266, (one voter abstained) even though Gore won the nation’s popular vote.

Trump recently reminded The New York Times that he was “never a fan of the Electoral College” and would have rather been elected through winning the popular vote.

At least one political observer said he doesn’t expect the petitions or requests to electors to change anything.

While some electors might become “faithless,” and switch their votes, the likelihood of enough flipping their vote to change the result is small.

“No one wants to be the skunk at the garden party or look like an outlier,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “An elector may disagree with President-elect Trump but there is a strong sense of common purpose and unity after an election prompting electors to follow tradition or the law.

“Electors understand they are the final step in the peaceful transition of power and a return to the democratic values that unite the nation. Defecting from that norm sends a powerful but disruptive message.”

Electoral College

The Electoral College — which has long drawn criticism from those who believe it’s an antiquated system — dates back to the late 1700s as the name given to a group of citizens chosen by “the people” to formally cast the final vote for president and vice president.

The founding fathers created the Electoral College, and put it in the Constitution, as a way to create a middle ground between letting Congress and qualified voters nationwide elect the president. They also wanted to give every state a proportionate voice in the process.

The country’s founding fathers created the 538-vote Electoral College and decided that 270 votes would determine country’s president.

So they created the 538-vote Electoral College and decided that a simple majority, 270 votes, would determine country’s president every four years.

The Trump-Mike Pence ticket is expected to claim 306 electoral votes. The Clinton-Tim Kaine team is expected to end up with about 232.

In each state, two sets of voters are chosen and poised to cast their ballots, depending on which candidate wins their state’s vote.

Since Trump won, the 38 Republican electors will vote. If Clinton had won Texas, 38 Democrats would be gearing up to travel to Austin for the vote.

Robert Lackey, a 42-year-old Grand Prairie man, is one of those Democrats.

“I’m disappointed, but I have to go with what the people of my state voted a majority for,” said Lackey, a teacher for the Dallas school district.

He said he hopes Republican electors consider their choices carefully. “It’s a possibility that some might turn on Trump and put someone else’s name down,” he said.

‘That’s my word’

Since the election, Will Hickman said he has received thousands of emails, likely around 10,000.

“People are flooding us with comments,” the 43-year-old Houston attorney said. “Some say Trump is unqualified, some are in fear and some are saying ‘follow the popular vote.’ 

But Hickman said he won’t be swayed. “I signed a pledge,” he said. “That’s my word and I’m sticking with it.”

Nick Ciggelakis, who likely will be the youngest presidential elector in Texas this year, agrees.

The 19-year-old Texas A&M University freshman, and recent graduate of Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield, realizes the historic opportunity he has next month.

“On Nov. 8, the people of Texas made their choice and selected Donald J. Trump,” he said. “I need to uphold their vote.”

Away at college, Ciggelakis admits he has been insulated from much of the correspondence requesting electors to change their votes. He said around 40 letters on the topic were sent to his parents’ home.

“I think I’ve had a lot more privacy than other electors,” he said. “It keeps the peace and quiet and allows me to study.”

And while he doesn’t know what to expect from the ceremony, he said he’s ready to represent millennials and cast his vote.

It will be a moment I will cherish.

Mansfield elector Nick Ciggelakis

“It will be a moment I will cherish,” he said.

Kim said he tried to personally respond to each person who wrote him, but he was overwhelmed with the number of emails flooding his inbox.

So he developed a standard response letting those contacting him know that Texans chose Trump and he personally has “no desire” for Clinton to become president.

Some responses are nasty.

In those cases, Kim said he sends a photo of Davy Crockett with his famous saying, “You may all go to hell and I shall go to Texas.”

“If it’s good enough for Davy Crockett, it’s good enough for me.”

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Presidential electors in Texas

Here’s a look at the Texas Republicans chosen during their state convention in Dallas earlier this year who will cast the 38 electoral college votes from Texas.

Marty Rhymes, Thomas Moon, Carol Sewell, John Harper, Sherrill Lenz, Nicholas Ciggelakis, William Hickman, Landon Estay, Rex Lamb, Rosemary Edwards, Matt Stringer, Shellie Surles, Melissa Juett Kalka, Kenneth Clark, Sandara Cararas, David Thackston, Robert Bruce, Marjorie Forster, Scott Mann, Marian Stanko, Curtis Nelson, Tina Gibson, Kendell Muenzler, Alexander Kim, Virginia Able, John Dillard, Thomas Knight, Marian Knowlton, Rex Teter, Stephen (Chris) Suprun Jr., Jon Jewett, Susan Fischer, Loren Byers, William Lawrence Greene, Mary Lou Erben, Art Sisneros, Candace Noble and Fred Farias.

Source: Republican Party of Texas

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