JUNEAU — Alaska’s three Republican electors cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump on Monday, honoring pledges they had made to support their party’s nominee while barraged with pleas to change their position.
Trump won Alaska, beating Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 47,000 votes in last month’s general election. That meant Alaska’s three electoral votes were to be cast by the three Republican electors chosen to represent their party: former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, Carolyn Leman and Jacqueline Tupou.
In an interview earlier this month, Tupou, who wrote in Evan McMullin as her choice for president in the general election, said there are things about Trump that scare her. But she said she didn’t see a palatable alternative.
On Monday, Tupou said she hopes this will be a “great America going forward,” where liberties continue to be protected by the constitution and people can live the American dream. “So, let us ever be vigilant,” she said.
State law requires political parties to secure a pledge from each of their electors to support their parties’ nominees and for electors to cast their votes for their parties’ candidates. In this case, that meant the Republican electors were to be committed to Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
The law does not include any penalty for electors who might not adhere that pledge.
Alaska’s electors had been among the Republicans nationally who were inundated with pleas to not vote for Trump.
“But for thousands of people to ask me to violate the laws of our state, that was just something I was not going to do,” Parnell said.
When asked what he would tell people worried about a Trump presidency, Parnell said he would urge them to “trust the republic. Trust the body of laws and the people who must enforce those laws from a constitutional perspective.”
Small groups of protesters gathered Monday morning in front of the state Capitol and outside the state library, archives and museum building where the electoral college ceremony was held. At one point during the ceremony, one man, Dennis Harris, quietly held up a pink sign that read: “Don’t Let Putin Win!”
Harris told reporters he was exercising his First Amendment right.
Kathy Miller, one of four women who showed up at the Capitol, said she wanted to stand for the values she feels are important, such as inclusion and support for everyone. Nothing she has heard from Trump “has given me any reason to respect or trust what he is going to do,” she said.
Jerry Ward, who was the Trump campaign’s Alaska director and is with the Trump transition team, said Alaska has a bright future under Trump. He said the president-elect is counting on Alaska to make the U.S. energy independent.