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Granite State electors want info on report of Russian election interference

  • Carol Shea Porter at the ‘Monitor’ editorial board Thursday, October 27, 2016.

  • Bev Hollingworth Courtesy 

  • Terie Norelli Courtesy

  • Dudley Dudley Courtesy



Monitor staff
Monday, December 12, 2016

New Hampshire’s four Democratic electors have signed on to a letter demanding the U.S. intelligence community brief Electoral College members about Russia’s possible interference in the presidential election.

The letter, signed by 10 of the country’s 538 presidential electors, comes a few days before members of the Electoral College are set to cast their ballots on Dec. 19, formally ending the election.

“The electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings,” the letter reads. It was published online Monday and addressed to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The 10 electors – nine Democrats and one Republican – say in their letter they need this information before they cast their votes next week.

“We do not understand our sole function to be to convene in mid-December, several weeks after Election Day, and summarily cast our votes. To the contrary, the Constitution envisions the Electoral College as a deliberative body that plays a critical role in our system of government  – ensuring that the American people elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve,” the letter reads.

It arrives on the heels of media reports over the weekend that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Russia worked to help Trump win the election against Hillary Clinton.

Republican Congressional leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan – also backed the idea Monday of a congressional inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference.

Trump has pushed back forcefully against the reports.

“Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!” he tweeted Monday.

The letter’s current signatories include New Hampshire electors Dudley Dudley, Bev Hollingworth, Terie Norelli, and incoming First Congressional District Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. The other five Democrats are California elector Christine Pelosi – the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – electors Michael Baca (Colorado), Anita Bonds (Washington, D.C.), Courtney Watson (Maryland) and Clay Pell (Rhode Island)

The letter’s lone Republican signatory is Chris Suprun (Texas), who has already publicly pledged to vote for a Republican alternate to Trump come Monday.

The letter is the latest instance of electors suggesting the use of the Electoral College as a check against Trump. Baca is spearheading the “Hamilton Electors” campaign, which calls on Democrats and Republicans to band together to cast a majority of the electoral votes for a Republican alternate to the president-elect. Only a handful have publicly signed on.

Hollingworth, who said she still planned to vote for Clinton in a phone interview Monday, said she had been alarmed by the news over the weekend about Russia’s alleged interference.

“If Russia is guilty of involving itself in our government we have a real responsibility to know that and to act upon it,” she said.

A former executive councilor, Hollingworth said she was also worried about Trump’s anticipated Secretary of State nominee – Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, who is friendly with the Russian regime.

Dudley, also a former executive councilor, said that if there were any ongoing investigations into Trump or his campaign and potential ties to Russia, that electors needed to know about them.

Dudley said she still currently planned to vote for Clinton, but added that if enough Democratic and Republican electors united around an alternate to Trump, she would be “up for considering” changing her vote.

Norelli, a former New Hampshire House speaker, said that if Russia had interfered in the election it would “strike at the very heart of our democracy.”

Electors should know if there was any “information that would give us pause in our actions next Monday,” she said.

“As an elector, I feel I have a constitutional role to play that I take very, very seriously,” she said.

Norelli couldn’t say if she would consider voting for somebody other than Clinton.

“What I would say at this point is that I don’t have all the information,” she said, “which is why I signed on to this letter.”

Shea-Porter provided the following statement through spokeswoman Naomi Andrews:

“I signed the letter because I believe that there are some very important questions that need to be answered before electors cast their votes for president of the United States. I am deeply concerned by Russian interference in our elections, and by Donald Trump’s dismissive response to our intelligence assessments.”

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)