Despite defectors, U.S. electoral college affirms Trump presidency

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The U.S. electoral college voted on Monday to place Republican businessman Donald Trump in the presidency.

Donald Trump last year, from file.
Image: Michael Vadon.

In most election years, this is a formality. However, with Trump's loss of the popular vote by a margin of 2.7 million, allegations of Russian hacking, and concerns, such as those expressed by Texas elector Christopher Suprun that Trump "shows daily he is not qualified for the office," liberal voters and anti-Trump protest groups had hoped the electors would deny Trump the 270 votes he would need to be inaugurated on January 20.

The president-elect issued a statement: "This election represents a movement that millions of hard working men and women all across the country stood behind and made possible. 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. Together, we will make America great again."

Anti-Trump protesters outside one of his hotels last month, one with a sign which reads "He is Not My President" in Spanish.
Image: Lorie Shaull.

Trump received 304 of the 306 votes he had been pledged and Hillary Clinton 227 of 232 for a total of seven faithless electors. Five whose constituencies went for Clinton voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Bernie Sanders or Faith Spotted Eagle who opposed the Keystone Pipeline. Two Republican electors, both from Texas, whose votes were slated for Trump engaged in a protest vote, one for Ohio governor John Kasich and one for Ron Paul. Several other Democrats and one Republican who had announced their intentions in advance were either replaced or resigned.

While tradition dictates that electors must vote according to their constituencies, only 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia actually have laws requiring them to do so, and there is no constitutional or federal law on the matter. In the remaining 21 states, electors are technically permitted to cast their votes as they see fit. No faithless elector has ever been prosecuted.