Monday Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote 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. Amid the push by anti-Trump forces to persuade electors to defect had turned the normally mundane civic procedure into high drama.
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 president.
Republican National 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 state’s winner.
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 results.
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 presidency.
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, no Trump!”
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 Congress.
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.”