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Members of Connecticut’s Electoral College Vote for Clinton

by | Dec 19, 2016 12:43pm
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Posted to: Election 2016, Election Policy

Christine Stuart photo

Connecticut’s presidential electors

Members to the Electoral College in Connecticut were not as conflicted Monday as their colleagues in other states. That’s because Connecticut’s seven electoral votes were cast for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

Electors across the country have been receiving letters, emails, and phone calls over the past few weeks encouraging them not to vote for President-elect Donald Trump, who won the election with 306 electoral college votes to Clinton’s 232. Clinton won the popular vote by over 2.8 million votes.

There are 538 electors nationwide scheduled to meet Monday to carry out what has traditionally been a perfunctory and ceremonial vote.

Christine Stuart photo

Protesters outside the Capitol Monday

Outside the state Capitol in Hartford about 50 Connecticut residents gathered to express their concerns about the Electoral College and ask its members to reject Trump. They also talked about getting Connecticut to join the national popular vote compact.

Jean Koeppel, who helped organize the event, said Trump is “unfit to be our leader, but more importantly the reason he is our leader or that he’s our president-elect is because we have a broken system.”

The last time the Connecticut General Assembly raised a bill that would allow them to join the national popular vote compact was in 2014. The bill never got a vote in the House or the Senate, even though Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he supported it.

“We don’t hold fully democratic elections,” Koeppel said. “It’s not one vote per person in every state.”

If the election was based on the national popular vote, “we would have our first woman president today,” Koeppel added.

Lisa Eldridge, who was among the small group of protesters on a bitterly cold day, said she doesn’t believe Trump will be a “good representative for our country.”

“I hope that something will happen today and people will vote their conscience and they will say they do not want him as the president,” Eldridge said.

Rep. Bob Godfrey, who was one of Connecticut’s seven electors, said he was honored to be given the opportunity. At the same, he said he would be happy to get rid of the position.

Christine Stuart photo

Rep. Chris Rosario, D-Bridgeport, cast his vote for Hillary Clinton in the Senate chamber at the state Capitol

All seven of Connecticut’s electoral votes went to Clinton and Kaine.

Leading up to Monday, many electors who are chosen by the political parties have kept their votes to themselves with the exception of Texas Republican elector Christopher Suprun.

Suprun, in a New York Times editorial, wrote that he will not be voting for Trump and encouraged his fellow electors to consider another candidate, too.

“Electors of conscience can still do the right thing for the good of the country,” Suprun wrote. “Presidential electors have the legal right and a constitutional duty to vote their conscience.”

Meanwhile, 54 electors requested an intelligence briefing regarding reports of Russian hacking during the election.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday that it would not brief electors about intelligence regarding Russian interference.

“The President has recently directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a review of potential foreign interference in presidential elections dating back to 2008,” according to the press release. “This effort is ongoing and involves sensitive classified information. Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods.”

Trump must receive the support of 270 electors Monday. That means those who oppose Trump will have to convince 37 electors to change their votes.

University of Connecticut Professor Karl Valois said there are 30 states who have passed laws requiring their electors to pledge to vote for candidate who won their state. Over the course of history there have only been 157 “faithless electors” who have voted for someone other than the person they were required to vote for based on their party affiliation and vote.

He said those “faithless electors” have never impacted the outcome of an election, and there’s never been any legal action taken against them as a result.

Congress will meet on Jan. 6, 2017, to count the electoral votes, according to the U.S. Electoral College.

“If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election,” according to the U.S. Electoral College. “If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.”

Christine Stuart photo

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill seals the votes with wax and the Connecticut seal.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said the Electoral College is a “quirk of American democracy, but a pivotal one.”

She said presidential candidates command the public’s attention, but their votes go to a small number of people called “electors.”

“These electors cast their votes for the state’s winning candidate,” Merrill said.

She said Connecticut’s electors cast their vote for the candidate who won Connecticut, but not the country.

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