One of Michigan’s 16 electors who will be called upon to cast a vote validating the election of Donald Trump in the Electoral College has testified on video that he and others in the state are receiving “dozens and dozens of death threats” from Hillary Clinton supporters urging them to switch their votes to Clinton.
On Dec. 19 the Electoral College will convene to cast their votes for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, with each state’s electors pledged to vote for the candidate elected on Nov. 8 in their state.
But more than a dozen states have no laws making it illegal for the electors to change their vote while others have only a minor penalty such as a fine for doing so. If Clinton’s supporters can get enough of the 163 electors from states where Trump both won and votes can be legally switched on Dec. 19, Hillary Clinton becomes the next president of the United States.
Michael Banerian, 22, of Oakland County, Michigan, is one of that state’s 16 official electors who will meet in the state capital of Lansing on Dec. 19 to cast their votes for Trump. He told the Detroit News Thursday he has received threatening emails, lots of them, from people telling him to vote for Democrat Clinton instead of the GOP victor he is pledged to support. Trump won Michigan’s popular vote and should be able to count on the 16 electoral votes in that state.
Watch Michael Banerian, one of Michigan’s 16 electors, talk about the threats he has received on his life if he doesn’t switch his vote from Trump to Clinton:
But Clinton supporters have “deluged Banerian and other GOP electors with pleas and nasty emails to reverse course and cast their ballots for Clinton,” the Michigan Republican Party is reporting.
“You have people saying ‘you’re a hateful bigot, I hope you die,'” he told the News in a 6-minute video interview. “I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive.”
He said that while many of the emails are clearly death threats, others would fall into the category of “death wishes.”
Things like, “do society a favor and throw yourself in front of a bus.”
“I’ve just gotten a lot of ‘you’re a hateful bigot and I hope you die,’ which is kind of ironic,” Banerian said, “that they’re calling me hateful and yet wishing for my death. They don’t even know me.”
The Detroit News verified one message containing a death wish and another containing a death threat, in which the person told Banerian he would “put a bullet” in his mouth. Banerian said he deleted the rest of the emails and messages “because as you can imagine they’re clogging up my email.”
An online petition on Change.org signed by more than 4.3 million people is calling on the nation’s 538 electors to vote for Clinton instead of Trump.
Georgia official issues warning: stop harassing electors
While it is not legal to change one’s electoral vote in Michigan it can be done in other states, such as Georgia.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a statement Friday urging Georgians and others to refrain from using threatening and disparaging language to manipulate electors:
“The Presidential election is over but, unfortunately, the vitriol remains,” stated Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “Our office has received numerous reports of individuals hurling insults and threats at Georgia’s Electors because they are unsettled with America’s choice for President of the United States. This is absolutely unacceptable and those participating in or encouraging these efforts should stop. The electoral process in America has worked, and everyone – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others – should respect the will of Georgia’s voters and the Electors who represent them.”
Arizona reports threats against its electors
Fox News reported Friday that Arizona electors are also being harassing and threatened by Clinton supporters.
“Arizona’s presidential electors are reportedly being hit by a flood of emails and phone calls demanding they defy the voters in their state and choose Hillary Clinton instead of President-elect Donald Trump — as part of a last-gasp bid to overturn the election,” Fox reported.
Clinton-backers are targeting roughly 160 Republican electorates in the 15 states that Trump won and don’t have laws bounding the electorates to the winner: Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Meanwhile in Michigan, Banerijan says he will not be intimidated and has no plans of changing his vote.
“Even if I could, I wouldn’t be remotely interested in changing my vote,” Banerian, a political science student in his senior year at Oakland University and youth vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party, told the News. “The people of Michigan spoke, and it’s our job to deliver that message.”
He says even if he could change his vote, it’s not allowed. “That’s a misconception that I wish people knew about. It’s just a Google search away,” he said.
He will be in the Michigan capital of Lansing on Dec. 19 to proudly cast his vote for Trump.
Attending a liberal university in a state that has voted for Democrat presidents in the previous two elections, he said he doesn’t get many chances to celebrate a political victory. So he is especially proud to be taking part in the democratic process in Michigan that helped elect a Republican president.
He participated in a counter protest recently in which a Trump supporter was assaulted by a Clinton supporter, who came running toward him and other who had to “dodge out of the way.”
“What I would ask Michiganders and Americans to do is act like Americans,” he said.
“Americans don’t assault each other for political differences,” he added. “Americans don’t get in each other’s faces, spit on people, try to throw them to the ground. That’s not what Americans are all about. In many ways both sides have contributed to a lot of anger, and much of it well founded, but, I just ask everyone to act like an American. Americans’ don’t do this stuff. We don’t send death threats, we don’t beat each other up for political differences, that’s not what Americans are about, and Americans that have done that throughout history have been cast out of our society, and rightfully so. We don’t act like that so I just ask that we all live up to the responsibility of being Americans.”
Although critics have complained that the people’s will is being thwarted because Clinton narrowly leads in the national popular vote, Banerian said the system will be vindicated when he and other electors go to Lansing on Dec. 19. Electoral College defenders have argued that America’s founding fathers designed the system to protect small states from being dominated by states with large urban populations.
Another Michigan elector, Kenneth Crider, told the News he hasn’t received any death threats but has gotten more than 300 emails from people in other states asking him to vote for Clinton instead of Trump on Dec. 19.
The 51-year-old heating and air-conditioning technician said many of the emails were from teachers and professors trying to explain to him the gravity of the situation, urging him to change his mind.
But he said there’s no swaying his vote.
“I’m 100 percent behind Donald Trump,” Crider told the local newspaper.
Even if Banerian, Crider or one of the other electors had a change of heart, Michigan law says their votes would become null and void and another elector would be put in their place to cast a vote for Trump.
But not all states are that strict. Some electors could change their minds and cast votes for Clinton, a prospect that political analysts say is unlikely since candidates tend to recruit the most loyal supporters to be electors.
But that doesn’t stop the Clinton supporters from trying.
“We are calling on the electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton,” the Change.org petition said. “Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.”
While some lobbying is peaceful, other electors report receiving intimidating emails or messages, while to possibility of bribery is also feared.
“Hearing from them that they are also receiving threats, I’m interested in getting a consensus from the group … and seeing if it’s something that we should report to the police,” Sarah Anderson, the Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman, told the News. “It’s obviously something that we’re taking very seriously.”
Banerian said he has not yet reported any threats to the police but is considering doing so.
BuzzFeed reported Thursday that the #NotMyPresident Alliance, a national anti-Donald Trump protest group, has released the personal information of dozens of Electoral College members in states that voted Republican.
A spreadsheet distributed to supporters Wednesday included the electors’ personal phone numbers, addresses, religions, races, genders and candidate preference.
The group hopes its members and citizens around the country will contact electors and pressure them to change their vote from Trump to another candidate before Dec. 19.