BOISE – Idaho’s four Republican electors will meet Monday to cast their ballots for the president of the United States. A primer on Idaho’s electors and the Electoral College:
WHAT IS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?
It’s the 538 Americans who actually elect the president. The number corresponds to the seats a state has in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, plus the three electoral votes allotted to Washington, D.C. The magic number is 270, the bare majority required to win the presidency.
WHO ARE IDAHO’S ELECTORS?
Idaho’s electors originally were Layne Bangerter of Melba, who chaired Donald Trump’s Idaho presidential campaign; former GOP state Sen. Melinda Smyser of Parma; Caleb Lakey of Kuna; and Kootenai County precinct committeewoman Jennifer Locke of Coeur d’Alene. All four were Trump delegates at the Republican National Convention this year.
However, Bangerter and Smyser will be replaced Monday because they are federal employees. Smyser works for U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, and Bangerter works for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo.
The replacement electors are Rod Beck, who chaired Trump’s primary campaign in Idaho, and Smyser’s husband, Skip, who is a lobbyist and former lawmaker.
SHOULD I KNOW THESE PEOPLE?
Not really. Electors tend to fly under the radar, especially since none of them are elected to serve in the position. However, this year grass-roots campaigns have popped up to try to persuade an elector to deny the presidency to Trump – something that has never been done before.
The effort is a longshot one. Trump lost the popular vote but won 306 electoral votes. He would need three dozen electors to stray from him to lose the majority. So far nationwide, only three GOP electors have publicly announced opposition to Trump or indecision.
But that all means Idaho’s electors have become more popular than ever, with activists flooding their inboxes, voicemails and social media accounts urging them to stray from Trump.
DO IDAHO ELECTORS HAVE TO VOTE FOR TRUMP?
Gem State voters swung Trump on Election Day, but unlike rules that dictate 29 other states, Idaho electors aren’t required to honor the state’s results. Furthermore, there’s no penalty if Idaho’s electors choose to go their own way, but it’s unlikely they will.
Idaho electors – like many electors across the country – have a long history of being strong supporters inside political parties. Straying from Trump would politically hurt them inside the Idaho Republican Party, which currently has overwhelming control on both the state and congressional level.
Meanwhile, the Constitution is silent on electors straying from statute or party rules on how they cast their votes, which suggests electors can go their own way. This is certainly the thinking behind petitions and a handful of Hillary Clinton electors urging Republican electors to abandon Trump.
WHERE ARE THE ELECTORS MEETING?
Idaho’s GOP electors will meet at noon Monday in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office, on the second floor of the Idaho Capitol in Boise. The event is open to the public.