Conversation with Brooklyn’s Jeff Strabone on how his Electoral College website went crazy viral
‘The electors are elected officials so we have every right to write to them.’
Roughly ten days ago Brooklyn resident Jeff Strabone launched a website called directelection.org, which helps people write to members of the Electoral College to ask them not to vote for President-elect Donald Trump on Monday, Dec. 19.
Strabone’s website immediately went viral, with links to it on Huffington Post and Reddit (and in the Brooklyn Eagle) along with thousands of tweets and Facebook links.
Clearly, Strabone’s work filled a need for many thousands of voters. The Eagle met up with him again on Wednesday for a conversation about his campaign to help people reach electors and his beliefs about why this is important.
“The electors are elected officials so we have every right to write to them,” Strabone told us over a cup of coffee at 61 Local in Cobble Hill.
But there was “a big logistical mountain” to overcome, he said. “There’s no place to get [the electors’] addresses; they’re scattered across the fifty states. So I realized that if one person could do all the work — gathering their addresses, creating a downloadable, printable template for a letter and even the labels — that people would want to do it, they would want to be heard, especially this year.
“I decided to be that person,” he added.
Once Strabone launched the website on Dec. 5, “it immediately went viral and people responded as I hoped they would,” he said. “They’ve taken up the cause, they’ve been writing letters, many thousands of people. They’ve sent photographs to me through Twitter, which I’ve retweeted.”
Celebrities like actress Debra Messing; Josh Marshal, founder of Talking Points Memo; and film critic Matt Zoller Seitz “retweeted it in the first two hours, then it exploded. And it’s been picking up the pace ever since,” Strabone said.
“I’ve gotten some lovely messages from people, thanking me for it. Also some nasty messages, but that’s a small price to pay,” he said.
“I’m a cockeyed optimist, so I actually had the crazy idea that this might work. Of course then when it worked, I was a little shocked,” he said. “My teachers always told me one person can make a difference. I believed them.”
Strabone said that last-chance letter need to be mailed out Thursday – or Friday morning at the latest — to reach electors by Monday.
Could it work?
While some dismiss the idea that enough electors will decide to vote for someone other than the candidate they are pledged to, Strabone says it is certainly possible.
“There have been 156 ‘faithless electors’ throughout American history,” he said. (About half of them were from a single election in 1872, where Horace Greely died after Election Day and before the electoral vote.)
“There’s nothing in the constitution that binds the electors. There are state laws in some states like Colorado which purport to bind the electors. Some of us believe those laws are unconstitutional. In fact they’ve never been tested in court,” Strabone said.
Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is offering free legal counsel to all faithless electors in case they run into legal trouble, Strabone said. “So I think we’re going to find out this year if those laws are enforceable.”
Strabone listed some of the reasons he feels that Donald Trump has to go.
“He’s expressed hostility toward NATO; he loves Vladimir Putin. If Trump becomes president, Putin will have a free hand,” Strabone predicted. “He’ll take the rest of Ukraine, maybe he’ll march on Estonia.” Strabone also claimed that Trump was overleveraged and in debt to a large number of foreign lenders, many in Russia.
“I don’t want to wake up later and realize there was more we could have done,” Strabone said. “Do it now, this is our last chance. And like they say in Hamilton, ‘I’m not throwing away my shot.’”
To hear more from Strabone about his website and the letter-writing campaign, check out the video below.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment