Art Sisneros just couldn’t do it.
After months of thought, the welding supply salesman chosen as one of 38 Texans to serve on this year’s Electoral College couldn’t vote for Republican President-elect Donald Trump, a man he doesn’t consider “biblically qualified” to serve in the White House.
So Sisneros, a 40-year-old Dayton man, resigned as an elector.
He quietly made his announcement in a blog post over the weekend, saying he believes “voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God,” so his only option was to resign the coveted post and let the remaining electoral college voters replace him with “someone that can vote for Trump.”
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“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote in his blog post. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions.”
On Dec. 19, Electoral College voters across the country will head to their state capitols to formally cast their votes.
In Texas, Republicans during their state convention in May chose 38 electors — one from each congressional district and two elected statewide — to gather that day in the Texas House of Representatives chamber for what is typically a quiet ceremony.
Since the election, electors have been slammed by emails, letters and calls from countless Democrats asking them to not vote for Trump, particularly as Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has passed the 2 million mark. At a minimum, some asked electors to at least throw the election to the House of Representatives to decide.
Now electors in Texas may be overwhelmed again by Republicans who want to replace Sisneros.
“I expect we will be bombarded by people who want to be an alternate or elector,” said Alex Kim, a Bedford attorney and fellow Electoral College member.
Kim noted that any alternate chosen doesn’t have to sign the pledge that GOP electors initially chosen had to sign, promising to vote for the GOP presidential nominee.
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 to formally cast the final vote for president and vice president.
The founding fathers created the Electoral College 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 college is made up of 538 people and a simple majority — 270 votes — determines the country’s president every four years.
Presidential electors in Texas will meet Dec. 19 in the Texas House of Represenatives chamber for their ceremony.
Electoral College voters meet the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, under federal law. So on Dec. 19, electors across the country will head to their state capitols.
“We respect Mr. Sisneros’ decision and appreciate his willingness to step down from his position as a Presidential Elector in Texas,” said Tom Mechler, chair of the Republican Party of Texas. “The responsibility of selecting his replacement now falls into the hands of the other Electors from Texas when they assemble on December 19th, and we will continue to move forward with the process.”
In Texas, one of the first orders of business will be to propose a replacement for Sisneros and approve that replacement.
Once that person is approved and sworn in, electors will proceed to cast their ballots, said Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.
After the votes are 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. Plans then focus on the Jan. 20 inauguration.
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 Democrat nominee Al Gore won the nation’s popular vote.
Trump himself tweeted about the Electoral College and the election overall this weekend, saying that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.
“It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4 states instead of the 15 states that I visited.”
He later tweeted that he believed there was “serious voter fraud” in states ranging from New Hampshire to Virginia to California.
There has been no indication of vote manipulation.
Spotlight on Texas
Trump won Texas, claiming 52 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 43 percent.
That ensured him of the state’s 38 electoral votes, since all Texas electors signed a pledge promising to vote for the GOP presidential nominee.
Sisneros — who has drawn media attention in recent weeks for his electoral uncertainty — was no exception.
He has told the Star-Telegram that he wasn’t a Trump supporter, but he wasn’t completely opposed to him at the time of the state convention in May when he was chosen as an elector.
As time went by, and he studied the issue more, Sisneros said he realized he couldn’t vote for Trump.
On Election Day, his presidential vote went to Tom Hoefling of Iowa, a write-in candidate.
He spent weeks sifting through his options — voting for a candidate he didn’t believe in, breaking the pledge and becoming a “faithless elector” or resigning.
“I know Art spent a lot of time thinking about his position and stance,” Kim said. “I respect the consideration he put into this. I disagree with it, but I respect it.”
As Sisneros weighed what to do, he received death threats and started having a hard time sleeping.
“The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is,” Sisneros wrote in his blog post. “Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly. Personally, I wish more civil officers would be honest about their convictions. Assuming a Trump Presidency is their ultimate goal, they will get that. The problem is, that isn’t what they want. They want a democracy. They will threaten to kill anyone who challenges their power to vote for Skittles for dinner.
“Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”