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Gone viral: Brooklyn man’s website helps people contact Electoral College before Trump vote

‘People are actually writing to electors,’ says Cobble Hill professor Jeff Strabone

December 7, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Electoral College letter-writing website creator Jeff Strabone. Photo taken during a demonstration in 2014 to keep Long Island College Hospital open. Photo by Mary Frost

The Electoral College vote to determine who will become president is set to take place on Dec. 19. Now, a Brooklyn man has created a website to make writing letters to the electors easy — and his project has gone viral.

Jeff Strabone, co-founder of New Brooklyn Theatre, professor of English and past president of the Cobble Hill Association, said the site, directelection.org, helps people send their own signed postal letters to the members of the Electoral College from states won by Donald Trump to ask them, respectfully, not to vote for Trump.

“The electors have already received a ton of email and news attention, but a personal letter means a lot more. A single good old-fashioned, voter-to-voter personal letter is probably worth a thousand emails,” Strabone said.

It took Strabone weeks to gather the contact information for all the electors. Activists had some. Others he got from the states themselves. His work has inspired people across the country.

Huffington Post has written about it,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “[Actress] Debra Messing retweeted it even. I’ve had thousands of retweets, emails, et cetera. It’s bonkers. People are actually writing to the electors.”

“Bless you, and thanks for sharing this, and working so hard to find them!!! [the electors’ addresses]” is typical of the response Strabone has received via Twitter.

Trump needs 270 electors to support him. He won enough states to give him 306, so 37 electors need to be persuaded to change their votes.

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WATCH THE VIDEO: Conversation with Strabone on how and why his Electoral College website went crazy viral.

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On his website Strabone says, “How realistic is it that we can politely convince enough electors to abandon Trump (and choose the popular-vote winner Hillary Clinton instead)? Admittedly, the chances are slim, but this is our only shot! Nothing else at this point, other than swaying the electors, can stop Trump from becoming president. Let’s not throw away our shot!”

To use Strabone’s website to send the letters, people need a computer, paper, envelopes and Avery Standard 5160 labels.
Users download the ready-to-print, customizable letter in Microsoft Word and a set of ready-to-print labels, add their name and address, sign, apply stamps and mail.

“So far, I have addresses for about 260 Trump-pledged electors,” Strabone says on his website. (That’s up to 272 with the addition of Kansas and Utah on Monday.)  “Total cost of postage if you mail them all: $122. Estimated time to print, sign, stamp them all: just under two hours.”

He adds, “If that’s too much for you, fear not. I’ve also broken it down by state. Just download the states whose electors you care the most about and write to those. (May I suggest Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio?)”

The project may not be as quixotic as it sounds. At least one Electoral College member, Christopher Suprun from Texas, has already decided to change his vote. In an op-ed published by the New York Times, Suprun said he believed that Trump was not fit for office.

Another Texas elector, Art Sisneros, resigned rather than vote for Trump, according to The Hill.

A law firm, Durie Tangri, has offered pro bono legal assistance to electors who decide to break their pledged vote, according to The Huffington Post.

Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law School professor heading the pro bono project, told The Huffington Post, “If you’re an elector, you have to give a moral justification for deviating from a pledge you made. There has to be an overwhelmingly strong reason.”

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