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Trump's Pennsylvania electors showing no signs of flipping

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 10, 2016 5:52 PM
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Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer as they watch election returns during an election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

(Harrisburg) -- Anyone hoping Pennsylvania's 20 "unbound" Electoral College members might turn against Republican president-elect Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be disappointed.

In telephone interviews with nearly all of them over the past week, the electors expressed strong support for Trump and stated emphatically they will vote for him later this month. All are senior members of the party hierarchy in Pennsylvania, GOP activists or early and ardent Trump loyalists and activists.

"I would not even dream of disenfranchising all of those Pennsylvanians who voted for Donald Trump," said Joyce Haas, a retired English teacher and airline worker from State College who is the state GOP's vice chair. "I am representing them."

Trump "worked hard for it," said elector Mary Barket, a political consultant from Nazareth who supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the primary before casting her general election vote for the GOP nominee.

"The folks have spoken, the voters have spoken," Barket said. "I take that responsibility seriously."

That's not to say no one's tried to persuade them. The electors have been deluged with calls, letters and emails in the past couple weeks, enough that the state party made a complaint to the state police.

Over the past week, state troopers have been contacting electors, asking them if they felt threatened and in at least one case offering to help with security measures.

"I do not read those idiot emails," said Ash Khare, an elector from Warren whose consulting business has been affected by what was at last count 25,000 emails in the account he uses for work.

"This is totally asinine," Khare said. "My personal life has been turned upside down, my business has been turned upside down. My computer is frozen every day."

He spent several hours meeting with state troopers about the matter, he said. Khare said officers told him "they are very closely monitoring this," but from his perspective, he did not feel he had been threatened.

Christine Toretti, an elector and Republican national committeewoman, said a trooper came to her home in Indiana County to ask about the emails.

"They're coming from all over the country, but it's very clear it's an organized effort," Toretti said. "Someone said they've read them all -- I haven't. Apparently some of them can be very nasty."

State Rep. Tina Pickett, an elector from Towanda, said she did not perceive threats in the emails she has read. If she had, she said, she would have taken action on her own.

"I'm reading anger but I'm not reading threats at this point," Pickett said.

The onslaught of messages has been an intrusion, said Barket, who was also contacted by a state trooper.

"I feel like I've been made uncomfortable in my environment," Barket said. "I don't feel harassed, I don't."

The Department of State said the list of Republican Party electors it received from the Trump campaign contained contact information, and it was released upon request to registered voters in the state.

"The Election Code does not give us the authority to redact any of the information," said Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren.

State police communications director Ryan Tarkowski said its organized crime unit is investigating the complaint, but no charges have been filed. He declined to provide more details.

When the Electoral College meets at noon Dec. 19 in the state House chamber of the Capitol in Harrisburg, elector Peg Ferraro will be there to vote, with an entourage of friends and family watching nearby.

"I'm very excited about it, because it is a part of history," said Ferraro, a retired English teacher from Nazareth. "It's something you always hear about -- the Electoral College."

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