The 20 members of the U.S. Electoral College from Pennsylvania are being bombarded with pleas to not select Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president next month.

Bob Asher, a member of the Republican National Committee from Montgomery County, said he has been contacted about 400 times since the results of last week’s general election were announced.

About 350 of those contacts were what looked to Asher to be form emails that split into two camps — some suggesting he vote for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, others asking him to support any Republican for president except Trump.

The rest of the contacts came in phone calls and hand-written letters.

Trump prevailed in the Nov. 8 election with 290 of the Electoral College’s 538 votes while Clinton appears to have won the popular vote by nearly a 1 million-vote margin.

In that fight, the Electoral College always wins. Voters in presidential elections cast ballots for individual candidates but the state-by-state results determine which slate of Electoral College members later select the president.

In Pennsylvania, that means a slate committed to Trump gets to vote.

More than 4.3 million people have signed a petition at asking Electoral College members to vote for Clinton when they meet on Dec. 19. Pennsylvania’s 20 members will meet in Harrisburg that day to vote.

That petition calls Trump “unfit to serve” due to his controversial candidacy and notes Clinton’s popular vote victory.

Pennsylvania’s Republican Electoral College members were appointed by Trump, with advice from the state party.

For Asher, the popular vote results in Pennsylvania defeats one argument pushed by Clinton’s supporters.

Trump beat Clinton in Pennsylvania by a margin of just over 66,000 votes, a slim spread of 1.1 percent with nearly 5.8 million ballots cast for president.

“My position is I will support the person who won the popular vote, which is Trump,” Asher said he tells the people who contact him. “In no case did I feel like they were threatening me or over-the-top communications.”

Twenty-nine states regulate how Electoral College members vote. Pennsylvania is not one of them, meaning the members here could vote for a different candidate. While rare, such “faithless elector” votes have happened.

On Twitter, hashtags like #FaithlessElector and #MoralElector are sparking debate this week.

Christine Toretti, another Electoral College member who serves on the Republican National Committee, said she too has received about 400 emails along with about 10 phone calls and a few letters.

“I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” she said. “It’s clear that it’s a campaign from some organization or a few organizations.”

Toretti, from Indiana in western Pennsylvania, said “the whole point of the Electoral College” is to give all of the states a say in presidential elections, so that they are not dominated by the most populous states like California and New York.

Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, made the same point, writing, “The Electoral College is actually genius in that in brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play.”

That was a recent shift in opinion for Trump, who after President Obama won a second term in 2012, tweeted, “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”

Rob Gleason, an Electoral College member and chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party said all of the state’s electors have received similar communications. Gleason, who hails from Johnstown, said he has been deleting the emails without reading them.

“Every one of our 20 will be voting for Donald Trump,” he declared.

Gleason said the emails are coming in from around the country.

“It is precipitated by the popular vote thing,” Gleason said. “It’s fine. This is democracy. You can write letters. You can demonstrate.”


(c)2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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