Michigan electors cite threats over Trump vote
Mike Banerian, youth chair of the Michigan Republican Party and an official elector obligated to cast his electoral vote for President-elect Donald Trump, sets the record straight about his role in the electoral process.
Michael Banerian wants to show that young adults still have faith in the political system, but he said his selection as one of Michigan’s 16 Electoral College voters has prompted emails urging him to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton and even threatening death.
On Dec. 19, the 22-year-old Banerian is scheduled to join 15 other Michiganians to cast their electoral votes for Republican President-elect Donald Trump. But Trump’s opponents have deluged Banerian and other GOP electors with pleas and nasty emails to reverse course and cast their ballots for Clinton, according to the Michigan Republican Party.
“You have people saying ‘you’re a hateful bigot, I hope you die,’ ” he said. “I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive.”
The Detroit News verified one message containing a death wish and another containing a death threat, in which the person told Banerian he would “put a bullet” in his mouth. Banerian said he deleted the rest of the emails and messages “because as you can imagine they’re clogging up my email.”
“Even if I could, I wouldn’t be remotely interested in changing my vote,” said Banerian, a political science senior at Oakland University and youth vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party. “The people of Michigan spoke, and it’s our job to deliver that message.”
Although critics have complained that the people’s will is being thwarted because Clinton narrowly leads in the national popular vote, Banerian said the system will be vindicated when he and other electors go to Lansing on Dec. 19. Electoral College defenders have argued the country’s founders designed the system to protect small states from being dominated by states with large populations.
Casting a vote for Trump in the Michigan Senate’s chambers will show there are members of the millennial generation born since 1980 who still have confidence in the electoral system, Banerian said.
“I think I’m looking forward to being a next-generation American reaffirming the Electoral College by casting that vote,” he said.
Urged to change mind
Another elector, Kenneth Crider, said he hasn’t received any death threats or intimidating emails but has gotten more than 300 emails from people in other states asking him to vote for Clinton instead of Trump on Dec. 19.
The 51-year-old heating and air conditioning professional from Livonia said many of the emails were from teachers and professors trying to explain to him the gravity of the situation, urging him to change his mind.
But he said he has firm support for Trump.
“I’m 100 percent behind Donald Trump,” Crider said.
Trump won by a little more than 13,100 votes in Michigan, according to unofficial results scheduled to be certified by Nov. 28. Michigan law requires the state’s 16 electors to cast their votes for the presidential candidate who wins the majority of voters, said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.
Even if Banerian or another elector had a change of heart, other Michigan electors would just cast another vote for Trump, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
In other states, some electors could change their minds and cast votes for Clinton, a prospect that is considered highly unlikely since candidates tend to recruit diehard supporters to be electors.
An online petition on change.org signed by more than 4.3 million people is calling on the nation’s electors to vote for Clinton instead of Trump.
“We are calling on the electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton,” the petition said. “Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.”
While some lobbying is peaceful, other electors report receiving intimidating emails or messages, Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said Wednesday. The Detroit News couldn’t reach several electors on Wednesday.
“Hearing from them that they are also receiving threats, I’m interested in getting a consensus from the group ... and seeing if it’s something that we should report to the police,” Anderson said. “It’s obviously something that we’re taking very seriously.”
Banerian said he has not yet reported any threats to the police but is considering doing so.
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon also condemned the death threat and intimidating message sent to Banerian.
“That’s absolutely wrong, and anybody who sends a threat like that frankly should be prosecuted,” Dillon said Wednesday.
Elector ‘not afraid’
Banerian said he doesn’t fear the threat makers. He said many people are bolder on the keyboard than in person.
“They disturb me. But I wouldn’t say I’m afraid,” he told The Detroit News and then cut short the telephone conversation.
When he called back, Banerian said he had just dodged a furious anti-Trump protester who had plunged into a group of Trump supporters on Oakland University’s campus.
“He just started running toward me and the group,” he said, adding that he aided another Trump supporter whom the unidentified man attacked. “I don’t think it was because of me; there were a bunch of other Trump people.”
Police offered a more muted version of the incident.
“At approximately 1 p.m. today on the campus of Oakland University, a rally was organized by students,” Oakland University Police Chief Mark Gordon wrote in an email.
“Two opposing groups peacefully came together to voice their support and opposition to the recent election results. During the demonstration, an individual reportedly grabbed a sign out of the hands of another individual.
“The incident was resolved and no charges have been filed.”