By Ben Jacobs Monday 19 December 2016
Trump victory sealed despite demonstrations across the country, with Congress to formally endorse result in special session on 6 January.
The denouement of the 2016 election came on Monday, as electors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia formally elected Donald Trump as president of the United States.
An effort by anti-Trump activists, who had urged electors to back efforts led by celebrities and academics to cast their ballots at variance with election results to keep Trump from reaching the necessary 270 electoral votes, came to practically nothing. With counts still ongoing in California and Texas, the number of electoral college members who attempted to cast a protest vote was likely to reach at least nine.
In some state capitals, proceedings were met with protests.
More than 200 demonstrators were on the steps of Pennsylvania’s capitol in Harrisburg on Monday morning, waving signs and chanting in chilly, 25F(-4C) weather. They chanted “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” and “No treason, no Trump!”
Several dozen protesters gathered outside South Carolina’s statehouse in Columbia, waving signs with messages imploring electors not to back the president-elect.
Vermont was the first state to report the results of its vote. As expected, all three electors voted for Clinton. Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia and South Carolina followed for Trump, and Delaware for Clinton as the totals started to mount.
After a Hawaiian elector cast a vote for Bernie Sanders, the total was Trump with 304 votes and Clinton with 227. It takes 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency. Texas put Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes.
Republican electors said they had been deluged with emails, phone calls and letters urging them not to support Trump. Many emails were part of coordinated campaigns.
“The letters are actually quite sad,” Lee Green, a Republican elector from North Carolina, told the Associated Press. “They are generally freaked out. They honestly believe the propaganda. They believe our nation is being taken over by a dark and malevolent force.”
The Guardian spoke to six so-called “faithless electors” who intended to change their vote, all but one of them Democrats. The sole Republican, Christopher Suprun of Texas, said: “Since I announced my intention to vote according to my conscience, I have received about half a dozen death threats against me and my family.
“More happily, a person I’ve known for years who traces his ancestry back to the American revolution told me he thinks his forebears would have been proud of what I’m doing, which made me feel pretty good.”
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.”
A joint session of Congress is scheduled for 6 January 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 will be sworn in on 20 January.
“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,” Shawn Terris, a Democratic elector from Ventura, California, told the AP.
“It just seems so undemocratic to me that people other than the voters get to choose who leads the country.”
In Minnesota, won by Clinton, a Democrat who did not intend to vote for Clinton was replaced. The elector in question was a delegate for Sanders at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia in July.
David Bright, a Democratic elector from Maine, said on his Facebook page he had voted for Sanders, because his vote would not have helped Clinton win the presidency.
“I cast my electoral college vote for Bernie Sanders today to let those new voters who were inspired by him know that some of us did hear them, did listen to them, do respect them and understand their disappointment,” he wrote.
His vote was however ruled improper, and switched to Clinton.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.