Electoral College Affirms Trump’s Win as Bid to Block FailsBy
Balloting were taking place today in all 50 states and D.C.
Normally sedate gatherings attracting unprecedented attention
The Electoral College affirmed Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president Monday as electors across the country rejected a bid by a group of Democrats to spark a rebellion and overturn the Nov. 8 election results.
Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency when electors in Texas cast their ballots, according to a running tally by the Associated Press.
“The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin, far greater than ever anticipated by the media,” Trump said in a statement. “This election represents a movement that millions of hard working men and women all across the country stood behind and made possible.”
On Twitter, Trump thanked his supporters and wrote that he “officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).”
The 538 Electoral College members gathered in legislative chambers, secretary of state offices and state libraries to cast the ballots that send the billionaire businessman and first-time politician to the White House. Those votes will be counted formally and announced Jan. 6 during a joint session of Congress in Washington, two weeks before the presidential inauguration.
The normally sedate Electoral College gatherings drew intense interest and some protests this year because of a bid by a small group of electors to block Trump from the White House.
The attempt to deny Trump the presidency by trying to convince Democratic and Republican electors to back someone else injected more rancor in an already divisive political year, while offering a capstone for a 2016 presidential election that will go down as one of the oddest in American history.
Part of the impetus for the move was that Democrat Hillary Clinton, who ran up big margins in populous states like California and New York, beat Trump by at least 2.8 million ballots in the nationwide popular vote. It was the largest gap ever for a candidate who didn’t win the White House.
But the presidential election is a state-by-state contest and Trump won 30 states that together have 306 electoral votes, 36 more than the 270 needed to win. Clinton carried 20 states and the District of Columbia, for a total of 232 electors.
In his statement, Trump called it “a historic electoral landslide,” though his percentage of the Electoral College would rank the victory only 46th out of the 58 U.S. presidential elections.
It was Clinton who suffered most from the protest movement. Four of 12 Democratic electors in Washington declined to cast their votes for Clinton, even though she won that state’s popular vote, the AP reported.
The Electoral College was created by the nation’s founders as a compromise between those who favored a direct popular vote and those who wanted lawmakers to pick the president.
In some state capitals, the electors were met by protesters. Chants of “shame on you,” echoed in the legislative chambers where the Pennsylvania electors were gathered, as it became clear that Trump would win all the votes there. “He’s not our president,” one woman yelled.
During the weekend before the voting, Electoral College protests played out in several major U.S. cities, as activists tried to apply last-gasp pressure on electors.
Turmoil among electors was stirred earlier this month when President Barack Obama directed U.S. intelligence agencies to deliver a report on Russian hacking of Democratic Party e-mails, and the Washington Post reported that the CIA concluded the meddling was intended to benefit Trump.
Those developments prompted more than 60 electors -- all but one of them Democrats in states Clinton won -- to sign onto a letter unsuccessfully seeking an intelligence briefing about the hacking.
There’s no constitutional requirement that binds electors to the candidates who won their state, but most are required to do so under state laws. That’s never mattered or been seriously tested because there have been few cases of what’s known as “faithless electors” -- the last occurrence was in 2004.