Tennessee's Electoral College members 'harassed' by anti-Trump emails

Tennessee's Electoral College members say they're being harassed by opponents of President-elect Donald Trump who have inundated them with hundreds of emails and phone calls asking them to change their electoral vote.

Several members of Tennessee's Electoral College delegation told The Tennessean this week they've received as many as 200 emails per day and a handful of phone calls. Electors in other states told the Tennessean they too have received similar barrages of email.

"Certainly I would call it harassment," said Pat Allen of Clarksville, Tennessee's Electoral College representative for the 7th Congressional District.

Allen said she spent almost an hour deleting the emails, many of which circle around the same talking points hammered by Trump opponents.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote nationwide, but Trump won the electoral votes.

Allen and others say they don't plan to change their vote next month when the Electoral College votes are officially recorded across the country.

"There's no amount of money you could pay me to (change my vote)," said Lynne Davis, an Electoral College member from Lascassas, part of the 4th Congressional District.

Will Sellers, an Alabama attorney who represents the second congressional district in that state told the Tennessean he has also received emails, and while he appreciates the engagement in the electoral process from concerned Americans, "they've just wasted a lot of everybody's time."

Davis also called the barrage of emails "harassment" and stopped counting at 300 or so. Davis, Allen and Drew Daniel, of the 9th Congressional District, mainly comprised of Shelby County, are all serving in the Electoral College for the first time.

Daniel represents a county that overwhelmingly voted for Clinton, with the Democratic candidate beating Trump by nearly 30 percentage points.

Though his congressional district heavily favored Clinton, Daniel said he's going to stick with the statewide preference.

"We do it statewide," he said. "I'm gonna stick to that; I don't plan to change."

Neither does Allen.

"Why in goodness name would I not represent my constituents?" asked Allen, whose district was won by Trump.

Tennessee Electoral College members are bound by law to cast their Electoral College ballot for the candidate of their political party if they're alive, according to the Secretary of State's office.

If Tennessee's electors fail to cast their ballots for the candidate, they can be prosecuted, according to the Secretary of State's office.

The emails

Allen said the emails appear to be written by residents across the nation, not an automated system. In several she shared with The Tennessean, the emails do circle around the same talking points but have different subject lines, body text and signatures.

One, from a sender named Kristi Beal, who told the Tennessean she lives in Southeast Missouri, was sent to dozens of recipients, It said Trump lacks experience, is a misogynist and xenophobe, and that Clinton won the popular vote.

"You, electors, have a chance to be on the right side of history, to right a wrong, and put someone worthy in the most powerful position in the world," the email reads.

Another sent by Elizabeth O'Neill, of Colorado, reads in part:

"He has always served himself and his interests over those of his fellow citizens and there is no reason to believe that would change if he were given the power of the presidency."

Reached by email, O'Neill told the Tennessean on Wednesday she sent the email to all electors throughout the U.S.

O'Neill, who said she voted for Clinton, said her motive was never about putting Clinton in the White House; she didn't want Trump elected. When she went to church last Sunday, "it was overflowing with people in tears," she wrote.

"This is based on two principle (sic) issues: 1) Trump did not win the popular vote. If he takes office, it is because 538 Americans put him there, not because the majority of Americans who voted put him there. And 2) This is not Democrat versus Republican, liberal versus conservative. Those I know who are seeking ways to prevent a Trump presidency are operating from a place of tremendous concern for the future of our country," she wrote.

And another, from Lindsey Bramell, reads, in part:

"He shouldn't have gotten this far and despite the rules of democracy, when something this scary is at stake, the rules need to change.

"He WILL disappoint his supporters. He WILL go back on all of the horrifying things he promised to do. He WILL be seen as a failure and an embarrassment."

Allen said none of the emails she reviewed came from residents of her congressional district.

Davis said most of the emails she has received begin with the greeting "Dear Madam."

"Who has time to do this?" she asked rhetorically.

At least one other grassroots effort has begun, called HamiltonElectors, and is trying to cultivate support around an alternative Republican candidate. On Friday, the group's Facebook page had just less than 3,800 followers and about 500 followers on Twitter.

Reach Jake Lowary at 615-881-7039 and on Twitter at @JakeLowar


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