On Dec. 19, Texas’ members of the Electoral College will assemble at the state capitol and cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump. But Art Sisneros, a welding supply salesman from Dayton, will not be among them.
Until recently, Sisneros was the Texas Republican party’s elector for the 36th district – one out of 38 electors representing 36 congressional districts and two statewide positions. Sisneros took an oath, pledging to vote for the party’s presidential nominee. But after Donald Trump won the election, Sisneros realized he’d couldn’t vote for the president-elect in good faith.
Sisneros published a blog post over the weekend, explaining his reasoning. He writes that he cannot cast his electoral vote for Trump and that he must resign as an elector.
Sisneros tells the Texas Standard that his reason for resigning was not so much about his personal feelings as it was about his understanding of the role of Elector.
“As an elector, I began to evaluate what are the moral implications of this job and what I’ve been elected to do,” he says. “I began to really examine what that meant. It was more of a revelation of this conviction of ‘This is what somebody must be if they’re going to serve in public office.’ They must be a man of truth, and just and fair, and so forth.”
Sisneros says he knew what he was pledging, but not what his role as an Elector was. After further researching the position, he says he came to the conclusion that he “sinned” in pledging his electoral vote for the Republican party nominee.
“I think it’s clear that the founding fathers were opposed to pre-pledge candidates,” he says. They thought that populous people could come in and woo certain populations … and they figured that a representative head, that electors would be wise enough to see through some of these things.”
The Electors were a protection against a pure democracy, Sisneros says, but the Electoral College has become corrupted. Electors were originally free from political party affiliations and the pledges those parties now ask electors to sign. Sisneros says he found that historically and morally this means he must vote his conscience as an elector.
Texas’ Republican party has an “immoral” pledge, Sisneros writes in his blog post. It reflects citizen’s push for a democracy, instead of a republic.
“They want their popular vote across the state counted. They do not care about the authority of the office of an Elector. As long as they have someone to do what the people demand, they don’t care who it is. … That is evidence alone to prove that our republic is lost. The shell may remain, but in the hearts of the people and functionality of the system our republic is gone. God’s Word is clear we should all ‘let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no,’s ‘no.’”
“In the hearts of the people, they want one voice, one vote,” Sisneros says. “They want a true democracy, a pure democracy. … They no longer view it as a representative government. The representatives are there to do what the people want. What the people demand.”
That’s all only part of why Sisneros decided to resign from his post. He says as a Christian, he also felt he could not vote for Trump based on the president-elect’s character.
The pledge he signed made no mention of the “biblical qualifications” a candidate must have to serve as president, Sisneros writes. But the Republican party’s 2016 platform says they adhere to the original language and intent of the Constitution and the laws of nature and “nature’s God.”
“The law of nature’s God give clear principles for electing civil leaders. The original intent of the Constitution gives a specific method that to apply those principles. The Republican party of Texas declares their #1 principle is to honor God and original intent of the Constitution. They then force Electors to make a pledge that is contrary to both. … I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God.”
Sisneros says he had three choices, which he laid out in his blog post: vote for the Republican party nominee; vote for someone else and become a “faithless elector”; or resign.
He got a mixed reaction about his resignation.
“A lot of people are supportive on both sides and a lot of people are really angry,” Sisneros says.
In one Facebook post, Sisneros preempted his decision acknowledging that he was about to resign and that people were going to be unhappy about it:
“Before I came out and said I was resigning, people went insane,” Sisneros says. “Death threats, threatening to find where i work and hunt me down and all kinds of stuff, because all I simply said was ‘You know this job is so important, this office is so important and the consequences of it are very real and important that I’m gonna think, that I’m gonna weigh these options.”
But Sisneros is happy with his decision. He’s also okay with the idea that Trump will win the Electoral College’s final votes. He says he’s done his part.
“My obligation is to do my part as a voter and as an elector – I think also as a citizen,” he says. “My job is also … as a Christian is to pray for the president. I can’t control the outcome, I can only control my actions. So I’ll pray for him as our president, but I’ll also be willing to call him out when he’s not acting according to what he says he believes.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.