Alaska’s electors face pressures to go rogue



Alaska’s three Republican electors gather in Juneau on Dec. 19 to cast their official ballots for president. It’s an exercise that will happen on the same day across the nation in the 50 capitols plus the District of Columbia.

Sean Parnell, Carolyn Leman, and Jacqueline Tupou — Alaska’s electors  for the Republican Party — pledged to vote for the person whom Alaskan voters chose (by a wide margin) on Nov. 8: Donald Trump. It’s winner takes all electors in Alaska.

Trump won 53 percent of the Alaska vote to Clinton’s 38 percent.

To compare, in 2012 Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan won 54 percent of the vote to Barack Obama/Joe Biden’s 40.81%. In 2008, McCain/Palin won 59.42% of Alaska’s vote to Obama/Biden’s 37.89%.

Alaskans can attend the 2016 Electoral College Ceremony at the State of Alaska Library Archives Museum Building in Juneau at 11 a.m., Dec. 19:


As in other parts of the country, Alaska’s electors are getting calls and letters, and have been since the election. Progressives who favor Hillary Clinton are begging them to vote for anyone but Trump. At least one caller promised that there was money for an elector’s legal defense, should he or she choose to defect from their duty.

A petition group boasts that it has 4.7 million signatures of people asking electors to change their votes in favor of Clinton.

The Trump campaign itself is calling electors to ensure they aren’t being bought off, threatened, or otherwise pressured. In other words, Trump is taking no chances that Alaska’s electors will go rogue, and his organization was contacting Alaska’s Republican electors earlier this week.

Just to say “thanks,” of course.

There is no constitutional mandate for electors to vote as they pledged, and there is no specific Alaska law that does clearly lays out the rules, either. It’s quite vague and relies on the honor system:

Alaska Statute 15.30.090 Duties of Electors states: After any vacancies have been filled, the electors shall proceed to cast their votes for the candidates for the office of President and Vice-President of the party that selected them as candidates for electors, or for the candidates for the office of President and Vice-President under AS 15.30.026 if the electors were named under AS 15.30.026, and shall perform the duties of electors as required by the constitution and laws of the United States. The director shall provide administrative services and the Department of Law shall provide legal services necessary for the electors to perform their duties.

That’s ambiguous wording. State law, it appears, leans on the U.S. Constitution, which is silent on the matter of an elector’s conscientious objection.

In fact, there appears to be no real consequence in Alaska law for what’s called a “faithless elector.” Would it be a Class A or B misdemeanor? The question has never been tested.

Alaska’s electors have always followed the will of the voters. The will of Alaskans has been with the Republican Party during every presidential election, save one. Only in 1964 did the Democrats’ electors have the opportunity to cast their ballots, and they did so for Lyndon B. Johnson, who had won Alaska and nearly every other state.

Alaska's electoral votes through since Statehood.
Alaska’s electoral votes since Statehood.

There are  538 electors across the United States, with 270 needed to win. Donald Trump won 306 of those votes.

Democrats who are making one last Hail Mary pass to change the outcome of the election only need to convince 37 Republican electors to give their votes to Hillary or someone else, like John Kasich.

The newly minted Hamilton Electors are not likely to find defectors from Alaska, however. As for Kasich, he caught wind that he was being dragged into the fray and today told the Republican electors to vote for Trump:

“I am not a candidate for president and ask that electors not vote for me when they gather later this month. Our country had an election and Donald Trump won,” Kasich wrote on Twitter.

However, at least one of the 538 have declared himself to be a faithless elector, and there may be five others mulling it over.

If the movement succeeds — and it’s unlikely to — the matter goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for a final decision. There’s no doubt the House would confirm Trump, thus rendering the electoral shenanigans meaningless.

More on the twists and intrigue of what happens if electors go rogue can be found at the Constitution Center blog.




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