In two days, members of the Electoral College will cast their historic votes for the next president of the United States. In the meantime, they are under siege.
The nation’s 538 presidential electors have been thrust into the political foreground like never before in American history. In the aftermath of a uniquely polarizing presidential contest, the once-anonymous electors are squarely in the spotlight, targeted by death threats, harassing phone calls and reams of hate mail. One Texas Republican elector said he’s been bombarded with more than 200,000 emails.
“I never can imagine harassing people like this. It’s just f—– up,” said Jim Rhoades, a Republican elector from Michigan who runs a home inspection service. “I’ve lost a bunch of business.”
In recent decades, the Electoral College had become such a reliable rubber stamp of Election Day results that it was viewed as an afterthought.
But with many Democrats desperate to block the all-but-certain ascension of Donald Trump to the White House, this long-neglected body has been gripped by turmoil, and its members have been subjected to pleas to upend centuries of tradition by casting their votes for someone other than the president-elect.
There have been ad campaigns targeting electors and op-eds assailing their role. One Democratic member of Congress has called to delay the vote for president while an investigation of Russian involvement in the election is underway. Twoothers have pleaded with electors to consider Russia’s role when deciding how to vote. Progressive groups are preparing protests across the country at sites where electors will meet to cast their ballots. Personal contact information for many electors has been posted publicly — and it’s been used to bury them with massive email campaigns.