Politics & Government

Presidential electors from Texas are not required to vote for Donald Trump

Vice President-elect Mike Pence signs off on paperwork sending Indiana's electors to the electoral college at the Statehouse Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Indianapolis.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence signs off on paperwork sending Indiana's electors to the electoral college at the Statehouse Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Indianapolis. AP

Texas is the biggest source of electoral votes for Donald Trump, but a second elector from the state announced he will not vote for the Republican nominee.

Christopher Suprun, a paramedic from Dallas, confirmed he will not vote for Trump in a New York Times op-ed. Suprun has indicated for months that he may not vote for Trump.

“Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of ‘Saturday Night Live’ for bias,” Suprun said in the op-ed. “He tweets day and night, but waited two days to offer sympathy to the Ohio State community after an attack there. He does not encourage civil discourse, but chooses to stoke fear and create outrage. This is unacceptable.”

In late November, Art Sisneros, an elector from Dayton, resigned because he did not consider Trump to be “biblically qualified” to serve in the White House. The Republican Party will replace Sisneros with an elector who will likely vote for Trump.

In some states, presidential electors face fines if they do not vote for their party’s nominee.

New Mexico goes one step further: It’s a fourth-degree felony for an elector to vote for someone who did not win the state.

But Texas law does not penalize electors for straying.

“To be eligible to serve as a presidential elector, a person must: be a qualified voter of this state; and not hold the office of United States senator, United States representative, or any other federal office of profit or trust,” Texas election law states. “To be eligible to serve as a presidential elector for a political party, a person must be affiliated with the party.”

Suprun will head to Austin on Dec. 19 to vote for president, but it’s not clear who will get his ballot. A host of Republican officials before the election announced their intention to write in Vice President-elect Mike Pence for president after Trump’s comments about women.

Faithless electors are rare in recent elections.

In 2004, a Democratic elector from Minnesota voted for John Edwards instead of John Kerry for president, although that appeared to be a mistake. In 2000, a Democratic elector from Washington, D.C., cast no vote in protest of D.C.’s lack of representation in Congress.

Two Democratic electors, dubbed the Hamilton Electors, are trying to persuade their Republican colleagues in other states to become faithless electors, arguing that Trump is unfit to become president.

“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” Alexander Hamilton said in the Federalist Papers in 1788.

“We’re trying to be that ‘break in case of emergency’ fire hose that’s gotten dusty over the last 200 years,” Washington elector P. Bret Chaifolo said to The Atlantic. “This is an emergency.”

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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