Nevada elector: Electoral College baffles friends overseas
RENO — A native of East India, Dr. Rachakonda Prabhu is having a hard time explaining the Electoral College to his friends around the world.
The 69-year-old Las Vegas physician is one of Nevada’s six Democratic presidential electors who will ceremonially cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton on Monday afternoon at the state Capitol in Carson City.
Clinton carried the western swing state and won the most votes at the polls nationally in the November election. But GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s big upsets in Midwest battleground states helped him claim the most electoral votes, 306-232.
It baffles Prabhu’s international colleagues.
“They are shocked and surprised that somebody could lose the popular vote by 2.5 million and still win the election,” he said in an interview. “They just don’t understand that.”
“I tell them it’s an old system established by the Founding Fathers,” said the longtime friend of retiring Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. “I tell them it was good when it was working for the last 200 years. But it might be time for a change.”
Prabhu — a regular contributor to Democratic candidates who also sometimes gives to GOP campaigns — backed Clinton from the start, as did two other Nevada electors. The other three supported Bernie Sanders in the February caucuses.
The diverse group includes:
— A retired African-American woman from Minden.
— A Hispanic state assemblywoman from Reno.
— A retired union worker from rural Fallon.
— A 22-year-old Las Vegan who recently graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno.
— An IT specialist at UNR who helped craft databases to pinpoint precincts statewide with the biggest potential for Sanders.
“I ended up voting for Hillary, but I didn’t put a lot of energy into getting her elected — not like I did with Sanders, in any way, shape or form,” said Greg Gardella, 52, the technology manager at UNR.
Paul Catha, past president of Nevada’s Young Democrats, still believes Sanders was “the right candidate.” But the UNR grad ended up working for months as a party field organizer for Clinton, seven days a week, sometimes 18 hours a day.
“It’s a little bittersweet, but we carried Nevada,” Catha said.
Unlike some states where anti-Trump forces are trying to persuade electors to abandon him, Nevada law requires they adhere to statewide results. If they don’t, the secretary of state must reject their ballots and appoint replacements, repeating the procedure if necessary until it’s done legally.
“I’ve had people who I knew from the Sanders campaign suggest I vote for him, but it was always jokingly,” said Catha, who’s looking forward to his next “college” assignment.
Larry Jackson of Fallon, a rural caucus representative on the state party’s executive board, liked Sanders’ platform and appeal to youth. But he’s anxious to cast his ballot for Clinton. Trump worries him more than any new president since Ronald Reagan, who he associates with high unemployment.
“I don’t believe he (Trump) is going to be for the working people,” said Jackson, 68. “He’s taking care of his financial interests and people of his income bracket. ‘’
Two of Nevada electors have done this before, both Clinton loyalists.
Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, the incoming majority leader, cast her 2012 vote for President Barack Obama and Jo Etta Brown of Minden for John Kerry in 2004.
Brown remembers voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960.
“That’s the first time I became interested in politics. I found him to be very inspirational,” said Brown, who now has a leadership role with the Alliance for Retired Americans after advocating for decades for women, minorities and seniors. She’s no fan of Trump, but is willing to give him a chance.
“Politics is a strange thing,” she said. “It might be a bumpy ride, but the American spirit will get us through.”