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The six Arkansas Republicans who will serve in the Electoral College next month are getting bombarded with thousands of emails, tweets and Facebook messages from across the country urging them to cast their votes for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Photo by Bobby Ampezzan
Jonathan Barnett, a Republican national committeeman from Siloam Springs
Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun
Keith Gibson of Fort Smith

The same thing is happening to electors in other states.

And it's starting to get annoying, some of the Arkansans say.

"I believe they're trying to harass me into changing my vote and it's not going to happen," said Tommy Land, an elector from Heber Springs.

Other electors with overflowing in-boxes agree that the appeals won't work.

"Their chances are absolutely zero," said elector Jonathan Barnett, a Republican national committeeman from Siloam Springs. "They're not going to be successful and they're obviously wasting their time."

[INTERACTIVE: 2016 election coverage]

Barnett and the others signed pledges promising to back their party's presidential nominee. It's a promise they say they'll keep when they gather Dec. 19 in Little Rock to formally cast their votes.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump carried Arkansas, receiving 682,798 votes, according to the latest unofficial returns from the secretary of state's office. Clinton trailed with 379,004.

Under Arkansas law, Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, are entitled to receive all six of the state's electoral votes.

It takes 270 of the 538 electoral votes to win.

Twenty-nine states have laws requiring electors to cast votes reflecting the wishes of the state's voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

(In New Mexico, for example, faithless electors face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.)

The other 21, including Arkansas, haven't adopted similar statutes. Trump carried most of them.

In U.S. history, only 157 electors have failed to support their party's designated candidate, according to FairVote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that has studied the topic.

Seventy-one of those "faithless electors" switched their votes because the chosen candidate had died before the Electoral College gathered, according to FairVote's calculations.

No one has reneged on a promise since 2004 and that one may have been an error; an anonymous Democratic elector from Minnesota cast his presidential vote for his party's vice presidential nominee, John Edwards, managing to misspell the candidate's name, as well.

Trump opponents are trying to sway 37 electors in those states to switch their votes. That's enough to prevent Trump from capturing a majority, even if he wins in Michigan, a state where he currently leads Clinton by about 13,000 votes in a race in which nearly 4.8 million ballots were cast. Michigan's results are still unofficial.

Arkansas GOP faithful

State Republican Party officials say they're not concerned about last-minute defections.

Since it became a state in 1836, roughly 50 Arkansas Republicans have cast votes in the Electoral College.

None of them has gone rogue.

Republicans have the "utmost confidence and faith" in the people they've selected, said state party Chairman Doyle Webb, who served as an elector in 2012.

Only the most trustworthy, loyal and hardworking party members are given the honor, he added.

Joshua Douglas, a University of Kentucky law professor who studies election laws, says faithless electors have never altered the course of history.

"In none of these situations did the faithless elector make a difference. What they're really doing is making a political statement," he said.

A 2000 Washington, D.C., elector, for example, abstained to protest the city's lack of congressional representation. A 1968 North Carolina elector, on the other hand, declined to support President-elect Richard Nixon, instead casting his vote for third-party candidate George Wallace of Alabama.

Trump opponents say they know that the chances of success this year are small.

"I think it's going to be challenging," said Daniel Brezenoff of Long Beach, Calif.

The activist started a petition the day after the election "calling on the Electors to ignore their states' votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton."

By early Saturday, the appeal had collected nearly 4.5 million signatures, according to the website where it's posted, change.org.

A mass revolt by electors that changes the outcome of an election would be unprecedented, Brezenoff said.

But the long odds aren't stopping him.

"Just because it's never happened doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't. We think if there was ever a year for the electors to vote their conscience, this is the year," he said.

Brezenoff isn't the only one trying to sway electors. Other activists have posted online the email addresses for scores of Republican electors.

A website, asktheelectors.org, helps visitors quickly and easily send emails to electors. At last count, it had generated more than 25,000 messages.

Enough already; stop clogging the information superhighway, Arkansas electors say.

"I am receiving several hundred emails per day. Very disruptive and time consuming. The tone, for the most part, is civil," said elector Keith Gibson of Fort Smith in an email.

The appeals haven't persuaded him.

"I will vote as instructed by the people of my great state," he said.

Many of the writers are advocating for Clinton, noting her 1 million-plus lead in the popular vote. But others, like Marcia from Portland, Ore., suggest replacing Trump "with another constitutionally qualified candidate of your choosing."

Dismayed and fearful

The email writers, still stinging from the Election Day loss, express angst, fear, revulsion and dismay.

Deborah from Morton Grove, Ill., says she fears the Republican ticket will usher in "an American holocaust."

Gayle, who lives near Lake Tahoe, Nev., says she worries about the fate of Muslims with Trump in the White House.

"I myself feel vulnerable as a Jewish woman in a way I never have before in my life. ... I fear for our planet, as well," she writes.

Elector John Nabholz of Conway said he had received 3,300 by Friday morning, as many as six per minute.

Very few of them are from Arkansas.

The businessman, who remains firmly in the Trump camp, said he's read many of the messages, which are coming "from all over the country."

This is one example:

"My name is Jessi. I'm from Texas, and I'm married to a black hispanic man. Our last name is a hispanic name. We're terrified. I'm begging you -- do the unprecedented. Save us from this tyrant. SAVE US. ..."

Another message comes from a teacher, Bethany, a gay woman from Laurel, Md., who says she fears she will be "the target of persecution" if Trump is president.

A high school student from Berkeley, Calif., named Sophie writes: "I am very afraid for my future."

Evelyn, a shamanic healer from Yarmouth, Maine, asks electors to "vote to preserve the sanctity of our [indivisible] nation."

"I can't overemphasize how heartfelt they are," Nabholz said. "It's very articulate people that are writing. It's not just the angry mob. They're using every skill they have to be persuasive."

Some send a paragraph-long note. Others forward a form letter.

A few write multipage briefs, complete with footnotes.

Occasionally, a dissenting opinion also pops up.

"Do your job. Vote Trump," reads one note from a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary address.

The vast majority are clear about the issue they're addressing, but a few use stealth.

Click on an email with the subject line "Don't Change Your Password" and what pops up?

A warning that Trump is "a threat to the safety and stability of our great nation."

"They are using every trick they can think of to get me to open the email," Nabholz explained.

Electors are coming up with tricks of their own to cut through the clutter. One Arkansan blocks emails if the subject line includes the words "faithful," "faithless" or "fascist."

While the email writers haven't swayed Nabholz, he nonetheless respects them.

"I applaud them for engaging in the [political] process," he said.

The civility is appreciated, the recipients say.

Jonelle Fulmer, an elector and Republican national committeewoman from Fort Smith, said she is inundated with impassioned but polite missives.

"They're getting their marching orders from someone who is telling them they should be very respectful and I appreciate that," Fulmer said. "They have been very nice about it."

Despite the outpouring, the Arkansas electoral vote totals haven't budged since Nov. 8.

With one month remaining, Electoral College members say, it's still Trump 6, Clinton 0.

Electors like Sharon Wright of Hope say it would be unconscionable to vote for anyone besides the president-elect, a betrayal of Arkansas' voters as well as the GOP.

"I already signed that pledge with the Republican Party of Arkansas and I intend to honor that," she said.

Until the electronic deluge ends, Wright will be wearing out her computer's delete button; another 547 were waiting for her when she woke up Friday morning.

"It's overwhelming to say the least," she said.

Wright said she still plans to cast a vote that will reflect the votes cast by the majority of Arkansans on Election Day.

She hopes the writers eventually come to grips with the outcome of the 2016 election. "You lost. It's over. It's a done deal," she said.

SundayMonday on 11/20/2016

Print Headline: Appeals swamp GOP electors

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Comments

  • Jackabbott
    November 20, 2016 at 8:07 a.m.

    There are a lot of nuts and ignorant people out in the USA, but the people writing these stories and these goofballs trying to undo democracy are at the top(or bottom) of the list. Hopefully, someday they will get the mental assistance they desperately need or be institutionalized so they do hurt themselves or any one else.

  • TimberTopper
    November 20, 2016 at 8:22 a.m.

    Jack, did you need the word "not" in your last sentence?

  • Skeptic1
    November 20, 2016 at 8:45 a.m.

    I'm sure our electors are all being called racists, misogynists, and homophones if they don't change their vote.

  • GDB58
    November 20, 2016 at 10:13 a.m.

    Begin typing here...Clinton supporters are dumb ashes!

  • Jackabbott
    November 20, 2016 at 10:25 a.m.

    Yes, TT, not should have been placed in the last sentence.

  • mrcharles
    November 20, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

    Lobotomust, who will super bowl & college national championship?

    I am sure the request are legitimate asking ArKansas to switch to HRC. Probably done to get a rise out of people to fill space in ADG..

    Kinda like asking southern Baptist to not say Jews & Catholics are going to HE'LL. Never will happen so stupid to ask.

  • LR1955
    November 20, 2016 at 12:43 p.m.

    To everyone that is unhappy with the election outcome, or even other situations in your life...don't hang around online soapboxing! Get out there and put some time & energy into your plans, causes, beliefs, ideas, life. YOU CAN DO IT !

  • GrimReaper
    November 20, 2016 at 1:31 p.m.

    The megalomaniacal Dems would likely have no reservations about subverting the electoral process in such a manner if they thought they could get by with it. Their arrogant, self=righteous lust for control over those they view as "deplorables" has deluded them into believing that they have moral justification to "trump" the rule of law in order to achieve their treacherous ends.

  • RBBrittain
    November 20, 2016 at 6:24 p.m.

    I wish they would change their votes, but I already knew they wouldn't before reading this article. They're not legally bound to Trump, but the GOP picked them precisely because they're the most loyal; they would also go against the majority of Arkansas voters who elected them to vote for Trump. Not to mention our six electors wouldn't be enough to change the outcome by themselves.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    November 20, 2016 at 6:50 p.m.

    As before, and now, the people have spoken.

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