clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Presidential electors pressed to dump Trump; Utahns favor keeping Electoral College

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Efforts around the country urging presidential electors voters to dump Trump are picking up, including in Utah.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Efforts around the country urging presidential electors voters to dump Trump are picking up, including in Utah.
Paul Sancya, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Efforts around the country urging presidential electors to dump President-elect Donald Trump are picking up, including in Utah.

A full-page letter in Salt Lake City's daily newspapers Wednesday lists a number of reasons that Trump is unfit for the presidency and tells electors they have the power to prevent him from taking office. It refers to Trump as the "president-apparent."

"You are not bound to cast your vote for the candidate of your party, and as he won neither a majority nor even a plurality of the popular vote, there can be no question of undermining the will of the people," according to the ad paid for by a group called the Democracy and Progress PAC.

Under Utah law, however, Trump must receive all the state's Electoral College votes as the winner of the Nov. 8 presidential election here. Electors who fail to comply are replaced but do not face any penalties. A majority of states bind electors to vote with their party.

Electors in every state meet to their cast ballots Monday.

Utah's six Republican electors are already being inundated with emails pressing them to cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, whose lead in the popular vote exceeds 2 million, or someone other than Trump.

"That's not the way the election was conducted or played. Both Hillary and Trump went for the Electoral College vote," said Salt Lake County Councilman and Republican elector Richard Snelgrove.

Snelgrove said he finds it ironic that because Trump won in traditionally Democratic states that Democrats are crying foul and want to go with an option they didn't have before the election in letting the popular vote decide the presidency.

"No, Trump won the Electoral College fair and square," he said, adding that his vote will reflect the Utah electorate.

Trump won Utah with only 45 percent of vote, the remainder being split mostly between Clinton and independent candidate Evan McMullin.

Harvard law professor Larry Lessig told MSNBC on Tuesday that he's aware of at least 20 Republican electors committed to not voting for Trump, though it would take 38 to throw the election to the U.S. House.

"The framers expected these agents to be able to exercise their independent and nonpartisan judgement about who to vote for," Lessig said.

Also Wednesday, a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows a majority of Utahns oppose doing away with the Electoral College so the presidency is decided by popular vote.

The survey by Dan Jones & Associates shows 60 percent don't want to abolish the system, 37 percent favor getting rid of it and 3 percent don't know. Republicans are much more inclined to keep the Electoral College than Democrats, the poll shows.

For the second time in 16 years, presidential electors are expected to cast their ballot for the loser of the popular vote. George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000 but won the White House through the Electoral College.

Interestingly, a Jones poll for the Deseret News in 2000 showed 52 percent of Utahns wanted to junk the Electoral College and have the candidate with the most votes across the nation win.

The overnight survey came two days after early presidential returns showed Bush had likely won the presidency via the Electoral College but trailed Gore in the popular vote.

Contributing: Peter Samore