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In Unusual Election Year, Utah's Electoral College Members Feel Spotlight's Glare

Utah's six electors have drawn more attention this year as Clinton supporters have sought to persuade members of the Electoral College to withdraw their vote for Trump. Utah's electors say they are unlikely to do so.

This year’s presidential race has brought increased scrutiny to the Electoral College, and by default, the 538 members who comprise it. That include's Utah's own six electors.


So who exactly are the members of Utah’s Electoral College? Well, for one, they’re all Republicans.


Per state rules, whichever presidential candidate wins the state’s majority gets to seat their own party’s electors, who are chosen by delegates at their state convention.


This year’s six electors include two local elected officials, a BYU professor, a conservative talk radio host and a fourth generation farmer and rancher from Millard County, Peter Greathouse.


“I’ve received several phone calls, probably 25 to 30 emails, 25 or 30 letters, a number of Facebook messages trying to persuade me to vote otherwise,” says Greathouse.


It’s Greathouse’s first time as an elector and he’s been overwhelmed by the attention. Although Greathouse would’ve preferred a President-elect Ted Cruz, he has no reservations certifying Donald Trump and believes in the process.


“I’m kind of glad that I’m involved and get to see these opinions,” he says. “I feel kind of bad that the people have a misunderstanding of what the electors do and of their power.”


Utah is one of 29 states that binds electors to the state’s results. In theory, if an elector tried to switch his or her vote, that person would immediately be removed and replaced by another elector.


Salt Lake County Councilman Richard Snelgrove has been an elector twice before. He estimates he’s received about 800 emails and dozens of phone calls and letters about his small but pivotal role.


But he believes the Founding Fathers got it right when they established our indirect election system in the Constitution.


“The Electoral College played a key role then as it plays a key role now so that states like Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota — the smaller states — have influence in our process as well as in our government,” he says.


On December 19, Snelgrove and the five other electors will meet at the Utah State Capitol to ratify the results of the presidential race, another election for the history books.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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