State Politics

Amid protests outside, Idaho confirms its 4 electoral votes for Trump

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, at left, and Gov. Butch Otter flank Idaho’s presidential electors, from left: Rod Beck, Skip Smyser, Caleb Lakey and Jennifer Locke.
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, at left, and Gov. Butch Otter flank Idaho’s presidential electors, from left: Rod Beck, Skip Smyser, Caleb Lakey and Jennifer Locke. bdentzer@idahostatesman.com

Under the watchful eyes of supporters and protesters, and with a long line of the latter in the hallway outside, Idaho’s electors Monday took just seven minutes to confirm Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence as the winners of the state’s four electoral votes in the Nov. 8 election.

Writing their selections on two separate paper ballots one after the other, the electors worked in silence save one: Rod Beck, state chairman of the Trump campaign, said he was casting his vote for Trump “because of my grandson,” Damon, one of about 50 onlookers. “Donald J. Trump is going to make this nation a better nation,” Beck said.

“I just didn’t want to sit there and vote,” he said later, after Gov. Butch Otter and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney consulted on the vote, confirmed it, and Otter adjourned the meeting. “I wanted to make a statement that I was proud to vote for Donald J. Trump. Even though it’s theoretically a secret ballot, mine wasn’t.

Not everyone shared Beck’s view. Roughly as many Trump opponents as supporters crowded into the governor’s ceremonial office, and one asked the governor for permission to address the electors. Otter said no, but the woman spoke anyway.

“One more time and then you’re out of here,” Otter told her after a second warning, telling another protester to put down a sign.

Another opponent, Pam Chiarella, stormed out as the meeting adjourned, shouting: “Shame on you! Shame! Shame! Shame!”

The votes of the Idaho electors will be transmitted to the National Archives and to Congress. The House and Senate will meet Jan. 6 to count the votes and announce the winner. The new president takes office Jan. 20.

Besides Beck, Idaho’s electors were Skip Smyser, Jennifer Locke and Caleb Lakey. Beck and Smyser replaced two of Idaho’s original electors, who stepped down because they hold federal jobs. The Constitution prevents those “holding an office of trust or profit” with the federal government from serving as electors.

Beck replaced Idaho Trump campaign director Layne Bangerter, who works for Sen. Mike Crapo; Smyser took the place of his wife, Melinda, who works for Sen. Jim Risch.

Beck said the prohibition was overlooked when the electors were chosen. State constitution provides for electors to choose replacements, if necessary, the day they meet. One Idaho elector in 2004 who worked for then-Sen. Larry Craig stepped aside for the same reason.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

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