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Election 2016: Elector rejects calls to dump Trump
By Charles Swenson
Jerry Rovner thought he had a fight on his hands when he went to the Republican National Convention as a delegate for Donald Trump. But the split in the GOP was nothing to the rift that opened after last week’s presidential election and hundreds of emails have arrived in Rovner’s in-box asking him not to vote for Trump when the Electoral College meets next month.
“It’s amazing how vile and vehement these people are,” Rovner said. He is the GOP’s 7th Congressional District chairman and one of the state’s nine electors.
“I urge you to use your vote as an elector to help keep a dangerous would-be tyrant out of the Oval Office,” an email from California said.
“Donald Trump is a madman who has no business in the highest office in the world,” said an email from Maine that copied a format used by others who contacted Rovner.
After Trump won the South Carolina GOP primary, Rovner got calls asking him to switch to Ted Cruz on the second ballot at the convention. He said he planned to follow the message sent by the voters. That’s what he’s doing now. “Each elector was elected to represent thousands of citizens. This vote is not their ‘personal opinion,’” Rovner said in a reply to some of the emails.
South Carolina is one of 30 states that has laws that bind electors to vote as pledged, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This state makes it a crime to vote otherwise, although the nonpartisan organization notes that no one has ever been prosecuted and that the laws have never been challenged in court. But Rovner tells the senders that he will forward their emails to “the proper legal authorities” since they are soliciting him to break the law.
When Rovner was nominated as an elector, he signed a pledge to vote as directed. Trump won five of the eight counties in the 7th District. “I thought it would be benign,” he said. “I thought being an elector was just a formality.”
Emails began to arrive Monday at the rate of about 100 a day. Rovner has also had phone calls. “This is totally out of control,” he said.
Most of the emails argue that since Hillary Clinton got the larger share of the popular vote nationwide, Rovner should cast his vote for her. Matt Novack, a Democrat from Los Angeles, asked him to write in another Republican, such as Mitt Romney or John Kasich. “The vote will then go to the House of Representatives, who will elect a qualified Republican for the office of president,” Novack argued.
“A lot of them don’t understand the process,” Rovner said. “If Hillary Clinton had won, I wouldn’t be allowed to vote.”
Although some of the phone callers have screamed at him and his wife is concerned someone may come to their home, Rovner was philosophical.
A couple of hundred emails out of over 61 million votes cast for Clinton isn’t too bad by his reckoning.
“These people just won’t accept reality,” he said.
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