19/Dec/2016 // 1749 Viewers
BREAKING: Trump reaches the 270 votes needed in electoral college to make his victory official, according to an AP count.
Donald Trump is on the verge of being officially declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election, as the electoral college meets on Monday to officially seal his victory.
The usually overlooked, constitutionally obligated gatherings of 538 electors in 50 states and the District of Columbia continued throughout the day with no sign of defections among electors poised to vote for Trump.
By mid-afternoon, Trump was poised to top the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. Results will be officially announced on Jan. 6 in a special joint session of Congress.
Democrat Hillary Clinton amassed a nearly 3 million-vote lead in the popular vote, but Trump won the state-by-state electoral map — making him president-elect. That political dichotomy has sparked special scrutiny and intense lobbying of electors by Trump’s opponents, including last-minute protests across the country.
On Monday in Austin, more than 100 people braved cold temperatures to rally at the Texas state capitol ahead of an afternoon meeting of electors. In Utah, protesters booed and shouted “shame on you” as the state’s six electors cast votes for Trump in a state capitol conference room in Salt Lake City.
In Pennsylvania, which voted for a Republican president for the first time since 1988, a few hundred shell-shocked Democrats protested at the state capitol in Harrisburg while 20 electors backed Trump. In Florida, a crucial swing state where Trump defeated Clinton by about a percentage point, Trump won all 29 electoral votes Monday afternoon. A few minutes later, Trump clinched all 16 votes in Michigan, another state that flipped to Republicans for the first time since 1988.
On the streets of Washington, two dozen protesters assembled outside Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, singing songs such as “We Shall Overcome.” Some held signs, including one that read, “Resist Putin’s Puppet.” The District’s three electors will meet Monday afternoon at city hall, which is just a block from Trump’s hotel.
In Albany, N.Y., former president Bill Clinton sat in the State Senate chamber as an elector and cast one of the Empire State’s 29 electoral votes for his wife.
“I’ve never cast a vote I was prouder of,” he told reporters after the meeting.
The mostly symbolic calls for an electoral college rejection of Trump have grown following revelations of a CIA assessment of Russian hacking that could have boosted Trump’s campaign and, in the view of many Trump critics, raised doubts about his legitimacy.
Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s analysis of Russia’s role in the election and has boasted of a “historic” electoral landslide. But his 305-to-232 win over Clinton ranks just 46th out of 58 electoral college results.
His detractors are calling on electors to buck the president-elect in favor of Clinton — or Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, or other Republicans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“Dear Electors, There will be no peace on earth unless you refuse the one accused of treason and vote for Hillary Clinton instead,” said a holiday letter sent to Oklahoma Republican elector Charles Potts, which he posted on his Facebook page over the weekend.
But Potts and most other electors have said for weeks that they plan to cast votes reflecting the will of their home states.
Richard Snelgrove, an elector who also serves as a Salt Lake County, Utah council member, said he’s received “thousands of emails, 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.”
For the most part, he said, the messages have asked him to vote for Clinton on the grounds that she won the national popular vote. Snelgrove said there’s simply no justification for such a move.
“No one elected me king, and it’s my job to reflect the will of the people of Utah,” he said. “They chose Trump.”
In Harrisburg, protesters were still hoping that electors might act as an emergency brake on Trump.
“I feel the fate of our nation is at stake here,” said Ray-Ellen Kavey, 68, who’d volunteered for “many hours” from her home state of New York. “I think the Constitution charges the electors with preventing exactly what is happening here – a hostile takeover of our government by a bigot who has been supported by Russia. I know nothing will come of this, but my conscience won’t let me do any less.”
At noon, when the vote began, the protesters gathered around the Christmas tree in the Capitol rotunda. They cheered or sang when someone emerged from the third floor entrance to the House of Representatives and gave a wave or thumbs up. But the 20 electors stayed with Trump.
In Austin, Joni Ashbrook, 64, and her best friend, Mary Robinson, 62, stood outside of the pink granite capitol building, holding two ends of a banner on a wooden stick that Ashbrook sewed. “Resist Trump’s Agenda,” the sign read.
Ashbrook, a retired fourth-grade science teacher, said she knows the electors will likely vote for Trump but has been troubled by Trump’s Cabinet picks and disregard for global warming.
“I’d like for them to be very thoughtful about what’s going on around them,” Ashbrook said about the electors. “But this is just another way for us to say, ‘no.’”
In Maryland, all 10 of the state’s electors voted for Clinton during a meeting in the Governor’s Reception Room at the state house in Annapolis. Maryland law requires electors to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote, which Clinton won easily.
Maggie McIntosh, a state delegate from Baltimore, choked up as she announced the results to an audience of more than 70 spectators.
“This is kind of an emotional moment,” McIntosh said with tears in her eyes. “It’s an emotional moment for many women in this country and this state. Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first woman nominated by a major political party for president of the United States. She won the majority of votes here in Maryland, the electors today have chosen her as president, and she won the majority of votes in this country.”
The CIA’s assessment of Russia’s election interference prompted 10 electors — nine Democrats and one Republican — to request an intelligence briefing to learn more about Moscow’s role, a move endorsed by some of Clinton’s top campaign aides. Other groups have urged electors to postpone a vote until Trump explains what he plans to do about his multinational family business empire.
Trump has declined to explain his plans in person, but has tweeted that he will hand over day-to-day responsibilities for his company to his adult sons, who will do “no new deals” while he occupies the White House. Intelligence officials last week declined requests to brief electors, saying that they will only provide congressional briefings once a review ordered by President Obama is completed soon.
Electors will cast two votes, one for president and one for vice president. Once ballots are cast, state officials prepare a “certificate of vote” that is sent to Washington for processing by Congress and the National Archives.
Lawmakers will gather Jan. 6 in the House chamber to hear the results of the states in alphabetical order during a session set to be led by Vice President Biden. It will allow lawmakers to challenge the results or the votes of individual electors.
The U.S. Constitution says nothing about how electors should vote, but some states bind them to the results of the popular vote and some state parties essentially force electors to take a loyalty pledge in order to serve.
Just a handful of electors were poised to test the limits this year.
Since writing in the New York Times that he would not vote for Trump because he is unqualified to be president, Texas elector Chris Suprun said he has received death threats and been inundated with media requests.
In an interview Sunday, Suprun said he will vote for a Republican, but not reveal his choice until Monday afternoon. He said several other electors have contacted him wondering what their options are, but wasn’t sure how many would join him in voting against Trump.
While most attention focused on the intentions of electors from states that voted for Trump, at least one elector from a state that voted for Clinton tried voting for someone else.
David Bright, one of Maine’s four electors, cast his ballot instead for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Democratic runner-up, in honor of thousands of younger voters who had supported the senator.
But state officials ruled that Bright’s vote for Sanders was improper, so he switched to Clinton instead.