Idaho’s four presidential electors say they have been getting harassing phone calls, emails and Facebook messages urging them to become “faithless electors” and not cast their votes for Donald Trump in the electoral college.
“A lot of ’em use bad, rough language,” said Layne Bangerter, one of the four electors. “Nothing I feel intimidated over. But we’re watching it very closely. They’ve got our home phone numbers, our cell numbers, our emails, our Facebook. We’re just getting an orchestrated barrage from the left.”
Idaho’s other three Trump electors are Jennifer Locke, of Coeur d’Alene, Caleb Lakey, of Kuna, and former state Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma. “Caleb told me he had over 200 and something when he checked this morning,” Bangerter said.
Locke said, “It is concerning to me. It does feel like some level of intimidation.”
She said one message urged her to “vote for Jeb.” Others questioned Trump’s qualifications or charged sexism and racism. “They’re not even from this state – it’s Oregon, New York, California, Massachusetts, a lot of these is where I’m getting messages from,” she said.
Bangerter, who worked for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo for more than a decade, said he’s received around 40 messages on Facebook alone. “They attack my religion, they attack my politics, they tell me that I must be a terrible father, I must be a terrible American, they use foul language – every swear word,” he said. “They’re just trying to steal this thing. They won’t be able to do it, but they’re trying.”
Bangerter said the messages have included automated robo-calls.
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said, “While there is no federal requirement binding electors to their pledge, and while Idaho is one of 21 states that does not have state-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.”
He said, “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.”
Denney said if people want to provide input to the presidential electors, they can send a letter or email to his office, and he’ll provide it to the electors before they hold their formal meeting Dec. 19.
Bangerter, who said he considers the Dec. 19 meeting “a formality,” said the messages have urged him to vote for Hillary Clinton, or for anyone but Trump. He won’t; he’s the Idaho director of the Trump for President campaign and is a member of Trump’s transition team.
In U.S. history, only 157 electors have been “faithless” electors, failing to vote for the candidate their state endorsed.
Sixty-three of those came when Democratic nominee Horace Greeley died after the election in 1872 but before the electoral college convened; those 63 abstained.
The most recent incident of a faithless elector came in 2004, when one Minnesota elector voted for the same candidate for both president and vice president.
The outcome of a U.S. presidential election has never been changed by faithless electors.
Washington is among the majority of states with state laws barring faithless electors; if a Washington elector departed from his or her party pledge, a $1,000 fine could be imposed.