Alaska’s Electoral College members vote Trump amid controversy
Last Update at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19
There was only one name for president on Alaska’s Electoral College ballot: Donald Trump.
All three of Alaska’s electoral votes went to the Republican Party nominee. Former Gov. Sean Parnell, Carolyn Leman and Jacqueline Tupou were chosen by the Alaska GOP at its April convention to cast the votes Monday morning at the State Library, Archives and Museum in Juneau.
Before the brief ceremony began, a small group of protesters urged the electors to “Dump Trump.”
“Vote your conscience,” read the sign held by one member of the roughly twelve-person crowd. A child in the group displayed a quote attributed to George Orwell, “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”
Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, asked electors to consider delaying Monday’s vote, in light of a potential investigation into possible Russian involvement in the election process.
“It has become clear that the Russian government meddled in our Presidential election by using cyber-terrorism in an effort to help Donald Trump be elected President,” said Tarr in a press release Monday morning. “I want the members of the Electoral College to consider their responsibility to the nation before they vote today. They should join President Obama and Senate Majority Leader McConnell in calling for a complete investigation of the Russian hacking.”
Parnell, Leman and Tupou received national pressure to break their party pledge.
Parnell said he was not prepared for the over 60,000 emails he received.
“I was lucky my email was listed incorrectly,” said Tupou. “But people that were very good super-sleuths sought me out.”
Tupou said she was impressed by the thoughtful responses she received.
“I tried to take those into account. I tried to think about and ponder those things and pray on those things and decide how we can move forward as a country,” she said.
The electors said they did not doubt their choice to vote for Trump.
“Alaska law is very clear that Alaska electors choose the person that their party nominated,” said Parnell. “Being asked to violate the law of our state was not something I was prepared to do and not something I think anybody should do.”
Leman said she didn’t feel pressured at all.
“Everyone can vote as they choose and you know we listen to the voices of those around us but we make our decision, and I was a Republican elector and so I chose the Republican candidate.”
While electors pledge to uphold their party’s nominee, there is no constitutional provision or federal law that requires it, according to the Electoral College’s website. That’s why the Republican Party was looking for loyalty when choosing the electors.
“We gave a lot of thought to how likely are you to follow the vote of the people, so it’s a very high consideration,” said Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party. “And if you’ve been very active and volunteered for many years, sometimes decades, it’s a pretty good indicator that you’re going to honor the vote of the Alaskans and not just go rogue.”
According to Babcock, Alaska electors have always voted in favor of their party’s nominee. Alaska is a winner-takes-all state, according to the Electoral college, which means that all three electors will represent the winning party for the electoral vote.
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