In the past few days, Idaho’s four Republican Party electors have been reportedly receiving troubling phone calls regarding their vote in the Electoral College, according to the Idaho Secretary of State. Officials say the calls have come from citizens both within and outside Idaho.
“Many of these phone calls are crossing into what could reasonably be considered harassment,” said Idaho Secretary of State Lawrence Denny. “The callers are trying to persuade the electors to become what is known as a ‘Faithless Elector’. Going against their pledge, ‘faithless electors’ either abstain from or cast a ballot in opposition to their party’s designated nominee.”
“While there is no Federal requirement binding electors to their pledge, and while Idaho is one of 21 states that does not have stat-level legislation to force an elector to comply, attempting to sway an elector’s commitment to their party through insults, vulgar language, or threats, simply lacks civility,” Denny added.
“These are people who have volunteered to represent our state and their party in a process that goes back to the founding of our nation,” Denny stated. “If the Presidential Election had been different, the Presidential Electors would be from a different party and would still deserve the same respect. They don’t deserve to be mistreated by someone just because that person doesn’t agree with the outcome of the election. It is one thing to have a civil conversation and share your concerns, but some of the reports I’ve received are far from that type of behavior.”
The incidents are “disheartening and show a tremendous disrespect for the individuals tasked with casting Idaho’s electoral ballots,” Denny added.
Idaho’s Presidential Electors are scheduled to meet at noon on December 19th, as directed by Congress. At that time, they will cast their votes for President and Vice President.
Presidential Electors are individuals appointed by each political party and each independent Presidential candidate prior to the election. The individuals take a pledge that, given the opportunity to represent their state and their party in the Electoral College, he or she will cast an electoral vote for the party’s nominee for both President and Vice‐President, Denny explained. “Since a majority of Idahoans cast their ballots for the Republican Party nominee, Donald Trump, Idaho’s four electors will be the four Presidential Electors appointed by the Republican Party.”
The Electoral College has existed in some form since unanimously electing George Washington on February 4, 1789. The first faithless vote was cast by Samuel Miles, a Pennsylvania Federalist, who believed no Presidential candidate other than George Washington should ever be elected unanimously, in 1796.
The most recent occurrence of a faithless elector was in 2004, when an anonymous elector from Minnesota voted for the same candidate for both President and Vice‐President. To date, no elector has ever changed the outcome of the election by voting against his or her party’s nominee.
“I ask that those who wish to share their opinions with the four Presidential Electors remain respectful to the individual serving,” Denney continued.
Those who wish to share their opinions can send a letter or e-mail in care of the Secretary of State’s Office. The letters will then be provided to the Presidential Electors prior to the Electoral College meeting on December 19th, Denny said.