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Monday, December 19, 2016
Trump secures victory in Electoral College, as bid to flip electors flops
Donald Trump won the Electoral
College vote on Monday and secured his election as the 45th president of the
United States, as the latest – and perhaps last – stop-Trump movement failed to
gain traction in state capitals.
A fervent push by
anti-Trump forces to persuade electors to defect had turned the normally
mundane civic procedure into high drama.
But Trump easily
surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win, as representatives tabbed to
cast ballots in accordance with their states’ Nov. 8 decision mostly adhered to
the election results. With several states still voting, Trump had 304 votes and
Hillary Clinton had 169.
Texas put Trump over the
top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
afterward tweeted "congratulations" to his running mate while saying
he was "honored & humbled" to be officially elected the next vice
Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day urged Trump’s detractors to stop fighting
his election, now that his victory is affirmed.
“This historic election
is now officially over and I look forward to President-elect Trump taking the
oath of office in January,” she said in a statement. “For the good of the
country, Democrats must stop their cynical attempts to undermine the legitimacy
of this election, which Donald Trump won decisively in the Electoral College
with more votes than any Republican since 1988.”
Elector antics were few
and far between throughout the day, with most the disruptions occurring on the
Democratic side. A Democratic elector in Maine tried to vote for Sen. Bernie
Sanders, but switched to Clinton after it was ruled improper. Another who tried
to vote for Sanders in Minnesota was replaced; a Colorado elector who tried to
back Ohio Gov. John Kasich likewise was replaced. One of the biggest deviations
was in Washington state, where three electors voted for Colin Powell and one
voted for “Faith Spotted Eagle;” the remaining eight went to Clinton, the
It marked the first time
in four decades the state's electors broke from the popular vote. Washington
Secretary of State Kim Wyman vowed to work with the state attorney general and
charge the four unfaithful electors with a violation of Washington state civil
law. Such violations carry a fine up to $1,000.
With Trump’s win now
secured, a joint session of Congress is scheduled for Jan. 6 to certify the
Trump’s clear Electoral
College victory could serve to deter any further last-ditch efforts to
effectively nullify his November win and prevent his inauguration, though the
battle may shift next to his Cabinet picks.
Few expected the
“faithless elector” push to imperil Trump’s victory on Monday.
Only one Republican
elector – Texas’ Chris Suprun – publicly stated he would vote for an
alternative candidate. (He backed Kasich, while another Texas elector used his
ballot to vote for former congressman Ron Paul.) More than three dozen
Republicans would have had to abandon Trump to complicate his path to the
But GOP electors still
faced immense pressure -- with some even receiving threats -- from Trump foes
in the run-up to Monday’s Electoral College vote. Those urging disorder in
state capitals often cited Clinton’s popular-vote win, by roughly 2.6 million
votes, over Trump in November.
Celebrities made public
appeals to electors to use the arcane process to upend Trump’s victory, as some
Democratic electors tried to persuade their Republican counterparts to defect.
Reports that U.S. intelligence officials determined Russia interfered in the
election to boost Trump – findings disputed by Trump himself – only fueled
efforts to wield the Electoral College vote as a political circuit-breaker.
As electors met,
thousands of protesters descended on state capitals Monday in one last push to
convince Trump voters to change their minds.
In Arizona, dozens of
protesters gathered outside the meeting site, marching around the Capitol mall
and carrying signs that said, "Stop Trump." More than 200
demonstrators gathered at Pennsylvania's Capitol, chanting, "No treason,
Both states, and dozens
of others, cast their electoral votes for Trump anyway.
In Mississippi, Gov.
Phil Bryant dismissed attempts to sway Republican electors.
"This idea … that
we want to change the electors’ minds who have been dedicated to Donald Trump
very early in the process I think is just misguided,” he said.
If nothing else, the
furor over Monday’s proceedings has served to re-acquaint Americans with a process
that few pay attention to every four years.
The Electoral College
was devised at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It was a compromise
between those who wanted popular elections for president and those who wanted
no public input.
The Electoral College
has 538 members, with the number allocated to each state based on how many
representatives it has in the House plus one for each senator. The District of
Columbia gets three, despite the fact that the home to Congress has no vote in
To be elected president,
the winner must get at least half plus one -- or 270 electoral votes. Most
states give all their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins that state's
popular vote. Maine and Nebraska award them by congressional district.
After a joint session of
Congress certifies the results on Jan. 6, the next president will be sworn in
on Jan. 20.
Trump already is nearly
done naming his Cabinet appointees, as he prepares for confirmation hearings
and the inauguration ceremonies, in addition to his first 100 days agenda.
Despite the transition
process being well underway, Republican electors said they were deluged with
emails, phone calls and letters urging them not to support the billionaire
businessman in the days and weeks leading up to Monday’s proceedings. Many of
the emails were part of coordinated campaigns.
"The letters are
actually quite sad," said Lee Green, a Republican elector from North
Carolina. "They honestly believe the propaganda. They believe our nation
is being taken over by a dark and malevolent force."
Wirt A. Yerger Jr., a
Republican elector in Mississippi, said, "I have gotten several thousand
emails asking me not to vote for Trump. I threw them all away."
Arizona elector Robert
Graham told Fox News on Saturday that the state’s 11 electors received hundreds
of thousands of emails telling them not to vote for Trump and that he’s
received information that some of the other 10 have been followed or have
received a death threat.
“It’s out of hand when
you have such … a small group of people that is pushing so hard against
millions if not hundreds of millions of people who still appreciate this whole
system,” said Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. “The Electoral
College is part of the Constitution.”