Electoral College confirms Trump as US president

Colorado electors taking an oath before the Electoral College vote at the State Capitol building in Denver on Monday. Mr Trump's detractors called on electors to favour Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, or Mr Trump's running mate, Mr Mike Pence, or
Colorado electors taking an oath before the Electoral College vote at the State Capitol building in Denver on Monday. Mr Trump's detractors called on electors to favour Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, or Mr Trump's running mate, Mr Mike Pence, or another Republican such as Ohio Governor John Kasich.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • Mr Donald Trump has clinched the US presidency after members of the Electoral College cast ballots declaring him the victor, a perfunctory conclusion to the most stunning presidential contest in modern history.

Mr Trump became the winner on Monday after electors from Texas cast the ballots that put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Mr Trump finished with 304 votes while Mrs Hillary Clinton got 227. Results will be officially announced on Jan 6 in a special joint session of Congress.

Technically, Americans cast votes on election day for electors, not the candidates themselves. In the November 8 election, Mr Trump won 30 states that together have 306 electoral votes while Mrs Clinton carried 20 states and the District of Columbia that had a total of 232 electors. 

However, Mrs Clinton amassed a nearly three million-vote lead in the popular vote. 

That political dichotomy sparked intense lobbying of electors by Mr Trump's opponents in recent weeks. It also drew outsize attention to the usually overlooked, constitutionally obligated gatherings of the 538 electors in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The US Constitution says nothing about how electors should vote although some states bind them to the results of the popular vote.

The calls for an Electoral College rejection of Mr Trump grew after a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that Russian hacking may have boosted his campaign, which for Trump critics raised doubts about his legitimacy.

Mr Richard Snelgrove, a Utah elector, said he had received "thousands of e-mails, hundreds of letters and a few phone calls - most of them respectful, a couple over the top, and a few that have been downright threatening".

But Mr Snelgrove said there was no justification to change his vote.

"No one elected me king, and it is my job to reflect the will of the people of Utah," he said. "They chose Trump."

Mr Trump’s detractors called on electors to favour Mrs Clinton, or Mr Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, or another Republican such as Ohio Governor John Kasich.

In the end, however, more Democrats than Republicans split with their party. Four Democratic electors in Washington and one in Hawaii voted for someone other than Mrs Clinton, even though she won those states’ popular vote. In Washington state, three electors cast votes for former secretary of state Colin Powell, while another voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a member of the Sioux tribe from South Dakota. In Hawaii, one elector voted for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Two Republicans turned their backs on Mr Trump. 

Mr Kasich earned one vote from an elector in Texas. So did former congressman Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas.

Mr Pence earned the requisite electoral votes to serve as vice-president, but in Washington state, Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat representing Massachusetts, also earned some votes.

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Note: This article has been edited for clarity. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'Electoral College confirms Trump as US president'. Print Edition | Subscribe