Despite thousands of pleas to flip, W.Va. electors remain on Trump Train

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Even with thousands of emails and letters asking West Virginia’s presidential electors to do so, no one expects them to go rogue Monday.

The Electoral College, the process spelled out  in the U.S. Constitution, has been subject to renewed criticism since Hillary Clinton won America’s popular vote on Election Day but will lose the presidency to Donald Trump.

When West Virginia’s Republican electors gather at 10 a.m. in the House chamber at the state Capitol to cast their votes for president, they’re unlikely to present that point of view.

“We’ve been in touch with everyone, and everyone is steadfastly for Trump, and there was never a question,” said state GOP chairman Conrad Lucas.

West Virginia elector Mac Warner displays the thousands of letters he has received, asking him to switch his vote to someone besides Donald Trump.
West Virginia elector Mac Warner displays the thousands of letters he has received, asking him to switch his vote to someone besides Donald Trump.

West Virginia’s electors — a slate first nominated by their party at its state convention and then selected by the majority of the votes — are almost certain to avoid any drama because almost 68 percent of West Virginia voters marked ballots for Republican Donald Trump.

That wasn’t for lack of trying by critics of the Electoral College system.

Lucas said West Virginia’s Republican Party headquarters and its electors got thousands of emails and letters, asking them to consider switching their pledged votes.

“Their email inboxes have been overwhelmed. The party’s general email has gotten thousands of form emails from people. It’s been a massive outreach from the other side,” Lucas said. “A couple of our electors were overwhelmed with communication, but it’s all for naught but there’s never been a question that our electors are 100 percent for Trump.”

The Republicans representing West Virginia’s five electoral votes are outgoing state Senate President Bill Cole, who was defeated in his bid for governor; Ron Foster, a newly-elected member of the Putnam County Commission; state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey; Ann Urling, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for state Treasurer; and Mac Warner, who defeated incumbent Democrat Natalie Tennant for Secretary of State.

Morrisey was selected as a statewide officer and the rest were endorsed by Republicans in West Virginia’s congressional delegation: Senator Shelley Moore Capito vouched for Urling,Congressman David McKinley suggested Warner, Congressman Evan Jenkins touted Cole and Congressman Alex Mooney proposed Foster.

The slate was then affirmed by the West Virginia Republican convention committee.

Once the electors gather at 10 a.m. Monday, they will sign a “Certificate of Vote” to make their votes official. The event will be webcast here and will be shown live on the West Virginia Channel.

The ceremony and webcast originated four years ago to provide a civics lesson and to denote the event’s historic nature, said Briana Wilson, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office. The events will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and an invocation. Some students will be on hand to run through the history of Electoral College.

“Making our West Virginia electoral college ceremony have a little more pomp and circumstance as a way to engage to students,” Wilson said. “It is certainly a historic event.”

Electors across the country have been subjects of lobbying because of Hillary Clintons win in the popular vote but not the electoral. Concerns about Trump have caused some electors to say they’ll defy their own states’ popular votes.

There’s no federal law requiring electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote, although some states have requirements.

The Electoral College came about as a compromise by founding fathers who wanted a vote of Congress to select the president and those who wanted a popular vote. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 votes is required to elect the president.

West Virginia gets five electors because that’s its number of elected members of Congress. Other electoral votes are also apportioned that way: one for each member in the House of Representatives and then two for the U.S. Senate.

The meeting of electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election.

Electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for president and vice president on separate ballots. Each state’s “Certificates of Vote” are sent to Congress and to the National Archives, where they become official records.

Certificates of Votes are counted in Congress on Jan. 8. The President of the Senate, currently Vice President Joe Biden, presides over the count and announces the results.

The Presidential Inauguration is Jan. 20.

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