Trump within reach of Electoral College win despite protesters

Thousands of protesters converged on state capitols Monday, urging electors to abandon the winning candidate

Donald Trump
AP image


WASHINGTON (AP) — There were many protesters but few faithless electors as Donald Trump appeared to cruise toward 270 votes in the Electoral College on Monday — ensuring he will become America’s 45th president.

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

“We want unity, we want love,” Kasich said as Ohio’s electors voted to back Trump at a statehouse ceremony.

Thousands of protesters converged on state capitols across the country 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!” and “No treason, no Trump!”

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.

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

In Nashville, Tennessee, one audience member tried to read out some Scripture before the ballots were cast, but was told he could not speak.

“We certainly appreciate the Scripture,” State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said from the podium. “The answer is no.”

With more than 30 states reporting, neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton had lost a single elector.

At that point, Trump had 219 votes and Clinton had 120.

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 have been deluged with emails, phone calls and letters urging them not to support Trump. Many of the emails are part of coordinated campaigns.

In Atlanta, Gov. Nathan Deal empathized with GOP electors.

“I, too, regret that you have been the subject of harassment by those who perhaps are not as dedicated to the proposition of what this body is supposed to do as they are agitated by the fact that the people didn’t do what they wanted them to do,” Deal told the state’s 16 electors, who all voted for Trump.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, elector Charlie Buckels reached out to Trump’s opponents after the New York businessman got all of the state’s eight votes.

“For those of you who wished it had gone another way, I thank you for being here,” said Buckels, the state GOP finance chairman. “I thank you for your passion for our country.”

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 percent of electors through U.S. 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 Clinton, who got more than 2.6 million more votes nationwide, lost the election to 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 favor 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 Jan. 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 Trump — will be sworn in on Jan. 20.

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