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Texas Electors Choose Trump, But A Handful Don't Keep The Faith

Krystina Martinez
Christopher Suprun, the Dallas paramedic and elector who voted for John Kasich, speaks during last week's Friday Conversation with KERA News.

Updated: The Electoral College vote today in Texas was, as expected, an overwhelming win for Donald Trump. What wasn't expected was the number of Republican voters who resigned or defected. Four electors quit and were replaced. The final tally was 36 for Trump and one each for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and for fellow Texan Ron Paul.

The most public "faithless elector" was Christopher Suprun, a Dallas Republican who chose Kasich. Suprun made his choice known in a column Monday in The Hill. He wrote, "Ronald Reagan did not win the Cold War so that Vladimir Putin could pick our next president less than 50 years later."

This fall's bitter election spurred an unprecedented number of "faithless electors." Four Democrats in Washington state refused to vote for Trump's chief opponent, Hillary Clinton. Three of them picked Colin Powell; the other chose a Native American leader from South Dakota. A Democrat in Maine at first voted for Bernie Sanders, was ruled "out of order" and then switched to Clinton. Another pair of Democrats, in Minnesota and Colorado, voted for Sanders and then were replaced with Clinton supporters.

Texas' 38 electors began the festivities at the State House in Austin at 2 p.m. Three electors resigned because of eligibility problems; two are from the northern part of Texas -- Shellie Surles of Fort Worth and Melissa Juett Kalka of Amarillo.  One other Texas elector, Art Sisneros from suburban Houston, also resigned, saying he couldn't vote for Trump.

Last week, Suprun told KERA News that he'd received death threats because of his refusal to vote for Trump.

Those comments came a day before a WFAA report that dug into his background.

Earlier this month, Suprun wrote this in a New York Times essay: "Fifteen years ago, as a firefighter, I was part of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks against our nation."

The Dallas television station could find no evidence that Suprun was a firefighter at that point and quoted an unidentified first responder. It also raised questions about parts of his resume.

Suprun did not comment to WFAA. He did respond to questioners on Reddit, saying he was a volunteer firefighter in Virginia at the time of the attack and alleging that WFAA's report "exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth."

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Information from the Texas Tribune, a partner of KERA, was used in this report.

Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News has earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.