Sheriff experiences avalanche of mail

Most children consider their grandparents special, but when a particular 12-year-old told his grandmother that she’s one of the most important people in the country, thousands of pages of documentation backed up his claim.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn 'Bunny' Welsh is shown with her grandson John, who will accompany her to the Electoral College vote in Harrisburg on Monday, Dec. 19.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn 'Bunny' Welsh is shown with her grandson John, who will accompany her to the Electoral College vote in Harrisburg on Monday, Dec. 19.

His grandmother, Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, is no stranger to prominence, having handily won five terms in office during the past 16 years. But her popularity has spiked in recent weeks, and it has little to do with her office.

Welsh is one of Pennsylvania’s 20 Republican electors, selected by the party to cast their votes on Monday, Dec. 19. Before Election Day, political parties in each state chose rival rosters of electors, whose participation was triggered by whichever candidate won the state. Since Trump prevailed in Pennsylvania, the 20 GOP electors will travel to Harrisburg to vote on Monday at the same time that electors from other states – a total of 538 – do the same. (The number of electors in each state corresponds to the size of the state’s congressional delegation.)

In Pennsylvania, unlike some other states, members of the Electoral College are not bound to follow the party’s choice. And even though becoming what is termed a “faithless elector” is rare, the possibility of changing minds has prompted a massive nationwide letter-writing, emailing, and phone-calling campaign.

So for Welsh, and others like her, that newfound popularity has come with a price: message overloads.

Welsh, a Pennsbury Township resident, estimates that she will have received more than 100,000 messages by the time she records her vote. She said the names of Pennsylvania’s electors always appear on a state website, but she wasn’t prepared for her home and work contact information to end up on social media, where it was disseminated to the masses.

At work, Welsh had to stop answering the phone because so many people wanted her ear. Instead, her voicemail continued to reach its capacity, and computer technicians had to redirect tens of thousands of her emails to avoid logjams. Her staff has sifted through unprecedented stacks of mail. And the same scenario has played out at home.

“Our poor mail carrier now has to come to the door each day because the pile won’t fit in the box,” Welsh said. “What’s troubling to me is that I feel compelled to open many of them because my 95-year-old mother recently died, and I just had a birthday. I don’t want to miss a sympathy card or a greeting.”

But the sheer numbers make that task impossible. “I just hope that I don’t overlook a legitimate message,” she said. “Many of the letters look like greeting cards, but when you open them, it’s something quite different.”

Welsh said a state trooper interviewed her last week as a precautionary measure, instructing her to contact police if any of the messages proved threatening or suspicious. So far, none has been.

“Most are very respectful,” Welsh said. “Some of the messages are form letters while others are more personal.” The return addresses range from Pennsylvania to California to Japan, and the messages run the gamut from urging Welsh to vote for anyone but Trump to detailing reasons why he doesn’t deserve her support, a sentiment she doesn’t share.

Welsh chuckled when told that radio personality Dom Giordano referenced her on a recent show about the Electoral College, stating that if Welsh “flips her vote, it will be the apocalypse.” She said she feels strongly that she has a responsibility to reflect the will of the state’s voters.

“He [Trump] won the state, and I will proudly cast my vote for him on Monday,” Welsh said, adding that she knows the other 19 state electors and has no doubt that they will do the same.

Welsh said she prefers to focus on the significance of Monday’s event, a formal ceremony that will occur on the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She said when asked by organizers which version of the Bible she wanted for her swearing-in, she selected King James.

“I’m old-school,” she explained, adding that she’s looking forward to the experience. “I feel privileged and honored to be one of 538 people in the entire nation participating in this historic event.”

She said her 12-year-old grandson John, who happens to be a history buff, has thoroughly enjoyed touting her national importance. And because Monday happens to be his 13th birthday, Welsh made arrangements for him to accompany her to Harrisburg.

“His eyes just lit up when I told him,” she said. “I’m really excited about that part. This is something he’ll remember forever.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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