Trump officially secures title of U.S. President-elect amid protest, turmoil

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 : (Xinhua) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Monday officially won the Electoral College vote, securing his future four-year presidency amid protest and turmoil fuelled by U.S. intelligence agencies’ consensus about Russia’s alleged election meddling. “The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin,” Trump said in a statement released Monday evening. “With this historic step we can look forward to the bright future ahead,” Trump said, promising to work hard to unite the country and to “be the President of all Americans.”

A total of 538 electors, chosen by their state political parties, convened on Monday in Washington D.C. and 50 statehouses across the country to cast two votes – one for the president and one for the vice president. Before Monday’s electoral vote, which has long been regarded as little more than a formality, many Republican electors have been urged to defect from Trump amid continuous protests over Trump’s election victory. Major U.S. intelligence leaders have expressed support for an assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that Russia intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election partly to help Trump win the White House. The hope of the so-called “Hamilton Electors” was to dump Trump by having at least 37 Republican electors vote against the will of their states so as to deprive Trump of the 270 electoral vote majority. However, in the end all but two Republican electors stayed loyal to the party’s candidate, keeping Trump well above the 270 electoral vote threshold.

Both the two Republican “faithless electors” are from Texas. One voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich and the other for former Texas congressman Ron Paul. In comparison, on the Democratic side, there were at least eight “defectors” emerging from the Electoral College in five states, though three of them were later replaced by state election officials under their state law. In Minnesota, Hawaii and Colorado, each state had an elector voting for Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s strongest rival during the Democratic primaries. In Washington State, three Democratic electors voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is actually an African-American Republican, while one voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American environmental activist opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline. David Bright, a Maine Democratic elector, announced early on Monday that he would vote for Sanders instead of Clinton so as to help the embattled Democratic Party woo back young voters.

“Hillary Clinton will not become President, and there is nothing I can do about that. Knowing this, I was left to find a positive statement I could make with my vote,” said Bright on Facebook. However, he finally recast his vote for Clinton after being deemed improper. Most U.S. states have laws compelling electors to follow their state’s popular vote result. However, there is no federal or Constitutional directive for that. Local media said only nine U.S. electors in the past 100 years broke from their states’ Election Day results. The number of electors each state has is equal to its number of representatives and senators in Congress – 538 in total, with those extra three electors coming from Washington, District of Columbia. Among them are state party leaders, elected officials or just individuals with a personal connection to a presidential candidate.The Congress, where Republicans hold a majority, is set to certify the vote on Jan. 6.

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