Until We Get a Direct Democracy, Try Direct Pressure

Trump did not win a majority of votes in 25% of the states where he won the popular vote. If you live in one of those states–Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Utah, or Wisconsin–consider contacting your state’s Republican electors and encourage them to withhold their vote from the Republican candidate on December 19. Remember that you will be talking to Republicans, so think about who your audience is and what they need to hear.

Here’s what I shared with state electors:

Dear Utah Electors Eager, Kimball, Jenkins, Greathouse, Chia-Chi, and Snelgrove,

Thank you for taking your work representing Utah’s voters in the electoral college process. During an especially contentious time in our nation’s history, your efforts can go a long way in restoring respect for our government institutions.

Because your work has such an important impact, not only in its results but in the way you undertake it, I hope you will consider withholding a vote for Donald Trump and instead cast your vote in a way that better reflects the will of Utah’s voters, thoughtfully considers the well-being of the state, and aligns with your conscience.

As you know, Donald Trump did not garner the support of the majority of Utah’s Republican voters in the Beehive State’s primary caucus. From the start, the state did not support him as a candidate. As the depth of his moral bankruptcy became clearer over the course of the campaign, our state’s Republican leaders followed their consciences and withdrew their support for a serial adulterer, alleged child rapist, and admitted sexual assailant. Donald Trump’s choice to abuse women, including his own wives’ trust, combined with his disrespectful comments about women, people with disabilities, veterans, Gold Star families; his appeals to anti-Semitism; and his plan to force Muslims to register and be monitored showed us a man with little respect for those who are more vulnerable than himself and a willingness to foment violence for political gain. Donald Trump’s pettiness and vindictiveness—for example, using the sacred ground of Gettysburg to threaten to sue the many women who have credibly alleged sexual assault against him—are a violation of Utah’s standards of respect. This is not the way of the people of Utah, who value family, religious freedom, and civility, even across lines of difference. This is why, on November 8, the majority of Utah’s voters chose Not Donald Trump.

I am proud that Utah put forward a conservative candidate who explicitly rejected Trump’s divisiveness and moral failures; would-be Republican voters deserve such a choice. Because of the many Utah Republicans who understand that no good fruit can come from a rotten tree, the state showed the nation what moral leadership looked like. Their leadership was recognized on election day by voters saddened by the thought that our nation is so confused that it would consider a man who has chosen, even during the campaign, to degrade fellow citizens and national heroes such as John McCain.   

We are already seeing the negative consequences of a Donald Trump presidency, from increased attacks on Utah’s minority populations to tanking investment in alternative energy. Utahans know firsthand the need for environmental regulation to reduce air pollution, the promise of alternative energy, and the importance of protecting wilderness—all of which Donald Trump vows to undermine. These are not vague issues but clear ways that our people and our economy will suffer under Donald Trump’s presidency.

Additionally, there is every real possibility that a man with a long history of stiffing his employees, including his own campaign staff, will be found guilty of federal crimes before inauguration. As you are likely aware, our own University of Utah law professor Christopher L. Peterson has provided an analysis that Donald Trump’s alleged fraud and racketeering in relationship to his predatory Trump University are felony crimes that could justify impeachment. Mr. Trump is currently attempting to delay a trial over Trump University, though he is set to appear before a judge (the one he said could not do his job well because his parents were born in Mexico) later this month. We deserve better in the White House.

Further, given that Trump did not win the majority of votes and that Utah does not have an instant runoff option, I think there is a need for you, as electors, to give full consideration to the fact that most of us wanted someone other than Trump; he cannot truly be considered, at this point, the “winner” or a reflection of the people’s choice; he does not have a mandate from the people of Utah or, having lost the national popular vote, the people of the United States. Finally, since November 8, he has already begun to pivot away from positions he claimed to hold during the campaign, such as being pro-life, showing us that he adopted those positions only to exploit pro-life voters.

I ask you to display the same moral courage as so many of our Republican leaders, including Mike Lee and Mia Love. As you know, Utah Code Ann § 20A13-304 indicates that electors must vote for the “winning” candidate “except in cases of death or felony conviction of a candidate.” You should also be aware, though, that this law is likely unenforceable, even in states where electors are threatened with a fine for voting their conscience or in a way that best reflects the desires of the state’s voters. Additionally, if all of Utah’s electors stood together and said “No—we will not be forced to make a bad choice that does not reflect the values or contribute to the good of Utah,” you would find the majority of Utah’s voters in enthusiastic support for your leadership.

You are entrusted with a difficult job—to both reflect the will of the people and to lead them. Casting Utah’s electoral votes for Donald Trump is not clearly the will of the people, nor is it responsible Republican leadership. I hope you will hold open meetings, invite letters, and allow yourself to hear what the people of the state have to say about the matter, particularly the majority of us who chose someone other than him. (And, in particular, do not assume that McMullin voters would have selected Trump as their second choice.)

This is, I expect, difficult work, and I do not envy you. I would not want to bear the guilt of casting a vote for a candidate the majority of Utah voters did not choose or be complicit in a system that elects someone who did not win the majority of the popular vote. In order to make the best decision for Utah, please deliberately seek out the insights of those who voted against Trump in the primary caucus and in the general election, and carefully consider what a potential Trump presidency would mean for the state and its people and for the endeavors that Utah’s Republicans care about. If you would like help doing that—setting up open forums, organizing focus groups, or soliciting feedback from citizens—please let me know. I care deeply about the validity of this process and the dignity of public office and am happy to help in the effort to restore public faith in our state institutions. I can be contacted via email at XXXXX or via phone at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. 

With gratitude for your service,


Rebecca Barrett-Fox


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