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This Week’s LION: Carol Sides: A True Patriot

On Thursday, November 10, 2016, just two days after Donald Trump had won the presidential election, Carol Sides, a senior citizen from Williamsport, received a call. “Mrs. Sides, this is the State Police. I am calling to inform you that all your personal information, including your home address, cell phone number, and email, has been released to the public.”

(In celebration of my ten years with Webb Weekly, I am recognizing ten people who I believe have impacted our community and are great role models.)

Carol collected herself and asked, “Excuse me, but I don’t understand. What has happened? Why was my information given out?”

“Oh, ma’am, I’m sorry. I thought you already knew. You have been selected as an Electoral College delegate.” Mrs. Sides collected her breath as she realized she was one of twenty individuals chosen by the Pennsylvania State Republican Party to deliver the Electoral College vote for Donald Trump. However, her train of thought was interrupted as the caller had not yet gotten to the real purpose of the call.

“Mrs. Sides, you need to contact your local police immediately and notify them that your personal information has been given out.” When she assured the officer that she would do so, he repeated, “Ma’am, I am serious. Please let them know immediately. Do you understand? Immediately!”

So became a six-week horror story that was shared by hundreds of her fellow Republican electors all across the United States. Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote, but her electoral college vote was 226 vs. 304 for Donald Trump. According to the US Constitution, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. However, if 43 of Trump’s electoral college votes would shift to Clinton, she would become President. Yet, how could that happen?

Two days after that notification from the PA State Police, Carol received ten letters in her mailbox related to changing her Electoral College vote from Trump to Clinton. Carol began to be inundated with mail each day; it went up to 85, then 150, then 300, finally hitting 1,000 letters in a single day — all begging her to cast her electoral college vote for Clinton. Over 3,200 pieces totaled, some costing as much as $22 apiece to mail.

Each letter was original, some typed, some handwritten, and came from all over the United States. Virtually all came as regular mail, but several were sent by FedEx with nothing but the usual appeal letter inside. Some were gentle, many others were not, yet they all had a very familiar mantra: “imploring,” “begging,” “pleading” with Mrs. Sides to change her vote to Hillary Clinton.

At the same time, emails came in, similar to the letters sent by post — a few at first, then steadily increasing and increasing. The final tally was 27,860 emails, all remarkably similar in urgency, anguish, and tone. Her emails automatically went to her phone, and the huge number was more than the memory could carry. The phone jammed up so severely that Mrs. Sides spent nearly $350 to eventually get it back to working order.

The drama continued up to the very day of the vote. Mrs. Sides received a call from the “state committee” stating that she had a reserved parking place at the Capitol Building and was asked for her car’s color, make, model, and license number. She gave it to the caller and hung up the phone. A short time later, she received a call from a man identifying himself as an FBI agent, who inquired if anyone had asked for a description of her car in the guise of securing her parking place. When Mrs. Sides reluctantly admitted she had just done so, the agent told her it was a scam and that, in no uncertain terms, she was to not take that car to the Capitol Building in Harrisburg.

Mrs. Sides was driven by a Lycoming County Deputy sheriff to Harrisburg, and despite the obnoxious protestors chanting “shame on you, shame on you,” the twenty electors were graciously treated by state officials and were able to quickly make their vote, followed by a luncheon at the governor’s mansion with Governor Wolf and his wife. And so it ended.

From Carol Sides’s first phone call to the final vote, it took forty days. Like her Savior, whom she serves so faithfully, forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil was anguishing but never made any difference. Carol Sides survived the ordeal, and the country owes her and the other 303 electors just like her a huge debt of gratitude for their perseverance, resilience, and courage.