A member of the electoral college in Texas has become the first Republican elector to declare that he will not cast his vote for Donald Trump, saying he “owes a debt to [his] children” not to select an unqualified President.
Christopher Suprun, a paramedic and former firefighter who was among the first responders at the Pentagon on 9/11, said he would vote instead for a Republican “alternative” the country could unite behind, naming John Kasich as a possibility.
He becomes the eighth so-called “faithless elector” from across the US to declare publicly that he will go against the mandate given to him by the result of the presidential election.
Members of the electoral college, of which there are 538 in total and Texas has 38, are largely expected to vote in accordance with the majority of voters in their state. Mr Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 52 per cent to 43 per cent.
But writing in the New York Times, Mr Suprun cited Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, the founding documents behind the electoral college system, and insisted that “electors of conscience can still do the right thing for the good of the country”.
“Federalist 68 argued that an Electoral College should determine if candidates are qualified, not engaged in demagogy, and independent from foreign influence,” he said. “Mr. Trump shows us again and again that he does not meet these standards.”
The Republican said his decision to defect against Mr Trump was not as a result of Ms Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, though she now has a lead of more than 2.6 million.
And he said that he also does not believe “President-elects should be disqualified for policy disagreements”.
“I owe no debt to a party,” he said. “I owe a debt to my children to leave them a nation they can trust.”
Three faithless electors have dubbed themselves the Hamilton electors in Washington state, and there are four more in Colorado who have vowed to do likewise.
Both are blue states, but instead of voting as mandated for Ms Clinton, these seven have pledged to vote for a moderate Republican, like Mr Kasich, in the hope of winning over electors in red states.
Another Republican elector from Texas, Art Sisneros, has resigned from his role in protest, saying it would “bring dishonour to God” to vote for Mr Trump. He will be replaced when the electoral college meets on 19 December.
Bret Chiafolo, a cofounder of the Hamilton electors, said Mr Suprun was acting as a true patriot. he said: “He is showing that there are patriots of all stripes left in this country, that if all sorts of people can set aside their party divisions we still have hope of saving this country from a demagogue.”
Despite the growing size of the rebellion, few entertain the belief that faithless electors alone can overturn Mr Trump’s 306 to 232 victory in the electoral college system.
And some analysts predict that even if the electoral college managed to select Ms Clinton, Congress would go ahead and appoint Mr Trump anyway.
But Mr Suprun insists his vote is not just an empty gesture. He called on other electors to “join with me… to defend the country and Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. He added: “The election of the next president is not yet a done deal.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies