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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Donald Trump cruises to Electoral College victory despite protests

A rally outside the Hawaii State Capitol to protests against President-elect Donald Trump and the Electoral College (AP)
A rally outside the Hawaii State Capitol to protests against President-elect Donald Trump and the Electoral College (AP)

Donald Trump has won the Electoral College vote despite protests across the US - ensuring he will become America's 45th president.

An effort by anti-Trump forces to persuade Republican electors to abandon the president-elect came to practically nothing and the process unfolded largely according to its traditions.

Mr Trump's polarising victory on November 8 and the fact Democrat Hillary Clinton had won the national popular vote had stirred an intense lobbying effort, but to no avail.

The tycoon tweeted on Monday evening: "We did it!" He added: "Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media)."

He later issued a statement saying: "With this historic step we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the president of all Americans."

Even one of Mr Trump's fiercest Republican rivals, Ohio Governor John Kasich, said it was time to get behind the president-elect.

"We want unity, we want love," Mr Kasich said as Ohio's electors voted to back Mr Trump at a statehouse ceremony. Mr Kasich refused to endorse or even vote for Mr Trump in the election.

With all states voting, Mr Trump finished with 304 votes and Mrs Clinton had 227. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. Texas put Mr Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes.

Befitting an election filled with acrimony, thousands of protesters converged on state capitols across the country on Monday, urging Republican electors to abandon their party's winning candidate.

More than 200 demonstrators braved freezing temperatures at Pennsylvania's capitol, chanting: "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!"

In Madison, Wisconsin, protesters shouted, cried and sang Silent Night. In Augusta, Maine, they banged on drums and held signs that said "Don't let Putin Pick Our President," referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite the noise outside state Capitols, inside, the voting went pretty much as planned.

With all Republican states reporting, Mr Trump lost only the two electors in Texas. One voted for Mr Kasich and the other for veteran Texan politician Ron Paul.

Mrs Clinton lost four electors in Washington state - three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one for Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle. She also lost an elector in Hawaii to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who she beat in the Democratic primaries.

Several Democratic electors in other states tried to vote for protest candidates but they either changed their votes to Mrs Clinton or were replaced.

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.

Republican electors were deluged with emails, phone calls and letters urging them not to support Mr Trump. Many of the emails are part of co-ordinated campaigns.

There is no constitutional provision or federal law that requires electors to vote for the candidate who won their state - though some states require their electors to vote for the winning candidate.

Those laws, however, are rarely tested. More than 99% of electors through US history have voted for the candidate who won their state. Of those who refused, none has ever been prosecuted, according to the National Archives.

Some Democrats have argued that the Electoral College is undemocratic because it gives more weight to less populated states. That is how Mrs Clinton, who got more than 2.8 million more votes nationwide, lost the election to Mr Trump.

Some have also tried to dissuade Trump voters by arguing that he is unsuited to the job. Others cite the CIA's assessment that Russia engaged in computer hacking to sway the election in favour of the Republican.

"When the founders of our country created (the Electoral College) 200-plus years ago, they didn't have confidence in the average white man who had property, because that's who got to vote," said Shawn Terris, a Democratic elector from Ventura, California.

"It just seems so undemocratic to me that people other than the voters get to choose who leads the country."

A joint session of Congress is scheduled for January 6 to certify the results of the Electoral College vote, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding as president of the Senate. Once the result is certified, the winner - almost certainly Mr Trump - will be sworn in on January 20.


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