Politics

Anti-Trump protesters urge Florida electors to ‘vote for sanity’

Protesters urge Florida electors to reject Donald Trump

A couple hundred demonstrators gathered at the Florida Capitol to encourage the state’s 29 electors to oppose Donald Trump for president in the Electoral College vote on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.
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A couple hundred demonstrators gathered at the Florida Capitol to encourage the state’s 29 electors to oppose Donald Trump for president in the Electoral College vote on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.

Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Plumb doesn’t want to grow up under a Donald Trump presidency.

“He goes back on his word and everything he says is untrustworthy,” Plumb said. “And the way he treats women is terrifying. As a kid, I don’t want to turn 18 and have him rule my teenage years or just be in charge of my life in general, because as a woman I can’t trust him to make decisions for me.”

That’s why Plumb and her mother, Leigh Touchton, traveled from their home in Valdosta, Georgia, to Florida’s Capitol on Monday and joined a couple hundred others in a demonstration to urge the state’s 29 electors to oppose the president-elect.

[Donald Trump] goes back on his word and everything he says is untrustworthy.

Kathryn Plumb, 14, of Valdosta, Georgia

The formal Electoral College vote is at 2 p.m. but protesters began gathering at the Florida Capitol around 9:15 a.m., aiming to catch electors as they arrived and to make their case.

MORE: “Despite threats and lawsuits, Florida electors ready to vote for Donald Trump

Facing intense pressure from anti-Trump groups, none of Florida’s electors has publicly said they intend to change their vote and oppose Trump, and none is expected to. Many are loyal Trump supporters.

But the protesters in Tallahassee on Monday wanted to let the electors know they have allies if they do.

“We’re here today so we can show solidarity for those electors that want to vote against Trump and flip the vote,” said Maxwell Frost, of Orlando, who helped lead the demonstration as part of the group Democracy Spring, one of several groups organizing coordinated protests at state capitols nationwide on Monday.

“Not everyone is going to change their mind, that’s true — but we’re here for those who do want to change their mind,” Frost said.

The protesters — many holding signs like “vote for sanity,” “vote your conscience” and “say no to Trump” — came from all over Florida and parts of southern Georgia. (Tallahassee is a closer trek than Atlanta, they said.) They gathered calmly without chanting, first outside the Capitol in a cold rain before moving inside to stand outside the Florida Senate chamber where the electors will vote at 2 p.m.

The Electoral College is a safety valve — and it’s time to be used.

Bonnie McCluskey, of Tallahassee

The protesters had hoped to line the public gallery overseeing the Senate chamber during the vote, but access to the gallery is restricted and seating is by invitation only.

Each protester had their own story for why they don’t want Trump to be America’s next president. For instance, Touchton, Plumb’s mother, was among several who had grave concerns about Russia’s influence on the November election and about Trump’s friendliness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I really wish the Electoral College vote were delayed until they have enough time to hear all of it. I don’t understand why they’re not getting briefed on it,” Touchton said. “But the way that Putin seems to control Trump is very, very frightening to me.”

Tallahassee resident Bonnie McCluskey said “democracy is in threat” under a Trump presidency.

“I have the DNA of suffragettes and revolutionaries who created treason against the British Crown in order to form this democracy,” McCluskey said. “I understand it’s a representative democracy but the Electoral College is a safety valve — and it’s time to be used.”

Kristen M. Clark: 850-222-3095, kclark@miamiherald.com, @ByKristenMClark

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