In a normal election year, the Electoral College vote for president is a formality without much potential for surprise. But 2016 has not been a normal election year.
As South Carolina’s electors formally cast their ballots for president Monday, nationwide protestors calledfor the electors to change the outcome and vote for someone other than Donald Trump. Their goal was todeny Trump the necessary electoral majority he needed and throw the election to the House of Representatives.
Once all nine electors formally voted for Trump in line with South Carolina’s statewide results, Glenn McCall, who chaired the meeting, joked that he was “concerned” after the electors received thousands of emails and phone calls asking them to reconsider.
Matt Moore, an elector and the chairman of the state GOP, said afterward the result was never in doubt.
“I got over 2,000 emails,” asking him to change his vote, Moore said. “They were polite, but they were constitutionally wrong.”
Most electors said they were bound to cast their votes for the popular vote winner in South Carolina, both ethically and legally – state law requires them to vote for the state’s top vote-getter.
Elector Jerry Rovner said the Electoral College served an important role; despite Hillary Clinton earning more votes nationwide, Trump not only carried more states but a large majority of the nation’s counties.
“Without the Electoral College, this election would only matter in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia,” Rovner said. “They wouldn’t care about rural America at all.”
The vote came after a few dozen protesters gathered in the rain on the steps of the State House on Monday morning, in the hopes that the electors would change their minds and vote for another candidate.
“If they care about our future, they should think carefully before they vote for someone as unqualified as Donald Trump,” said Ken Erickson of West Columbia, citing his concern about “Russian meddling” in the election.
Clemson students China Moore and Hayley Hassler drove from Hartsville to voice her support for a change in the electoral vote tally.
“As young women, this election directly affects us,” China Moore said, adding she was also concerned about “the ways it doesn’t directly affect us, but will affect minorities, immigrants.”
Like most of the protesters, Moore was doubtful they could change the electors’ votes, but said, “if we can get one to question it, it would be worth it.”
But the electors, all chosen by the state’s Republican Party executive committee, were unswayed.
Once the result was announced to protesters in the hallway outside the meeting room, the electors could hear a loud cry of “No!” followed by shouts of profanity.