Q&A: Paramedic, Electoral College voter on refusing to vote for Trump

Christopher Suprun is "exercising" his duty as an elected representative to not cast an Electoral College vote for President-elect Trump


By EMS1 Staff

Paramedic and Electoral College voter Christopher Suprun received widespread media attention after The New York Times published an editorial from Suprun explaining his refusal to cast his electoral vote for President-elect Donald Trump. In the editorial, Suprun said his decision is not spurred by Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote despite losing the Electoral College, but simply because "[Trump] is not qualified for the office."

Suprun described Trump's behavior since the election as "unacceptable" and wrote, "He does not encourage civil discourse, but chooses to stoke fear and create outrage."

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Suprun's decision to not cast his electoral vote for Trump received strong reactions of support and protest from EMS1 readers. We emailed Suprun for additional information about his decision and how it has been received by other public safety personnel.

EMS1: How has your experience as a firefighter/paramedic informed or guided your involvement in politics and becoming an Electoral College representative?

Suprun: I was engaged in community and political activity prior to joining the ranks of fire and EMS, but in both cases they strongly deal with issues of accountability, public perception and execution of responsibilities. 

EMS1: What do you say to the police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics who support Trump and are questioning your decision to break ranks to not support Trump?

Suprun: My decision, as outlined in The New York Times, is not related to my position in public safety. While I understand parts of the public safety community may support Mr. Trump, the job of the Electoral College is to ensure first that smaller population states are not disregarded in national campaigns, and two, to ensure men (or women) of pre-eminent qualifications are elected. 

I do not think I am breaking ranks with the public safety community as many responders have come to me — from multiple sides of the spectrum.

While this statement will not be popular with many, I was elected to the Electoral College myself and I have a duty as a representative. Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia, a delegate to the Continental Congress, noted "a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion."

I am exercising that duty as a member of the Electoral College with the best care I can afford.

EMS1: What are you hearing from public safety personnel — either in support of or against — your editorial in The New York Times and your plan to not cast an electoral vote for Trump?

Suprun: Again, I am hearing from all segments of the nation and public safety responders from across the country have reached out. Just as responders represent their communities, there are opinions that range from conservative to liberal in their candidate choices and in their opinions. 

An interesting comment did come back from one state agency director who asked me if "in this era of political expediency can we still maintain our principles and values?" 

My answer to that person was when we don’t work toward principles and values we end up right where we are — always in an election voting for the lesser of two evils. I reject that idea and choose to find a better alternative as I am empowered to do as an elector.

EMS1: Why is it important for public safety personnel to be involved with and engaged in local, state and national politics?

Suprun: We are the front lines of emergency medicine, emergency management and law enforcement in our communities. I tilt toward the conservative end of the political spectrum and believe problems are best fixed at a local level. However, not all believe this. 

If you are not active and engaged in your local or state politics, then often as not, your knowledge is disregarded. Colin Powell warns in a leadership book to beware ivory tower experts and their theories. The people on the street as often as not know how to fix a problem if they are asked. Too often we take ourselves out of the equation of being active and engaged and have solutions to problems that don’t exist forced upon us.

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