Casey Crawford is, unexpectedly, a popular man. His work computer holds 70,000 recent emails from across the country. Hundreds of written letters clog his mailbox. Reporters call, asking for a few minutes of his time.
The reason is simple: Crawford, from Lee’s Summit, is one of 10 Republican presidential electors in Missouri. He’s promised to vote for GOP nominee Donald Trump on Monday, when he and other electors gather in state capitals to actually elect the next president.
But because Missouri electors aren’t required to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote, thousands of Americans have contacted Crawford and his Missouri colleagues in recent days to try to persuade them to support someone else: Hillary Clinton, a different Republican, maybe to not cast a ballot at all.
It hasn’t worked, at least so far. Missouri’s 10 electors — and the six in Kansas, who are also unbound by law — appear solidly committed to supporting Trump. The Republican easily won the popular vote in both states.
“Are there things Donald Trump could do tomorrow that would change my vote? Absolutely,” Crawford said. “If he went on a murdering spree. … At this point, though, I’m voting consistent with the will of the people.”
Mark Kahrs is a Kansas elector. He, too, has been bombarded with requests to change his mind. He won’t do it.
“Never,” he said. “If I couldn’t honor the votes of Kansans, I would step down and let someone else serve as an elector.”
In most years such pledges would be unnecessary. Members of the so-called Electoral College, like Kahrs and Crawford, would gather quietly in December to cast presidential ballots, and that would be that.
But for the second time in 16 years, the winner of the national popular vote is projected to get fewer electoral votes than the second-place finisher. The split has touched off a furious backlash from Democrats, and a small handful of Republicans and independents, who call the Electoral College undemocratic.
They’ve posted the names, email addresses and phone numbers of unbound electors on websites, urging like-minded voters to reach out before Monday. That’s why electors report a deluge of emails and phone calls.