Electoral College Delivers Victory To Donald Trump

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock.
Donald Trump has received more than 270 Electoral College votes, the number needed to become the next president.

This article was originally published on December 19, 2016, at 12:35 p.m.

Did you think the election was over? Well, we have news for you. Members of the Electoral College are set to gather in every state today to formally elect Donald Trump as president, even as anti-Trump forces are trying one last time to stop him from reaching the White House. Republican electors say they have been deluged with emails, phone calls, and letters urging them not to support Trump. Many of the emails are part of coordinated campaigns. "The letters are actually quite sad," said Lee Green, a Republican elector from North Carolina. "They are generally freaked out. They honestly believe the propaganda. They believe our nation is being taken over by a dark and malevolent force." Protesters gathered at some state capitals, but the demonstrations and earlier lobbying are unlikely to persuade electors to dump Trump. Electors are selected by state parties, and so they are often insiders who can be trusted to vote for the party's candidate. Many Republican electors said they feel duty-bound to honor their pledge to vote for the candidate who won their state, regardless of how they feel about Trump.

The demonstrations and earlier lobbying are unlikely to persuade electors to dump Trump.

The Electoral College was devised at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It was a compromise between those who wanted popular elections for president and those who wanted no public input. It has 538 members, with the number allocated to each state based on how many representatives it has in the House plus one for each senator. The District of Columbia gets three, despite the fact that the home to Congress has no vote in Congress. To be elected president, the winner must get at least half plus one — or 270 electoral votes. Most states give all their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins that state's popular vote. Maine and Nebraska award them by congressional district. The AP tried to reach all of the electors and interviewed more than 330 of them, finding widespread aggravation among Democrats with the electoral process, but little expectation Trump would be derailed. Some Democrats have argued that the Electoral College is undemocratic because it gives more weight to less populated states. That is how Hillary Clinton, who got more than 2.6 million more votes nationwide, lost the election to Trump. Some have also tried to dissuade Trump voters by arguing that he is unsuited for the job. Others cite the CIA's assessment that Russia engaged in computer hacking to sway the election in favor of the Republican.

A joint session of Congress is scheduled for January 6 to certify the results of the Electoral College vote.

"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," said Shawn Terris, a Democratic elector from Ventura, CA. "It just seems so undemocratic to me that people other than the voters get to choose who leads the country." But despite the national group therapy session being conducted by some Democrats, only one Republican elector told the AP that he will not vote for Trump. There is no constitutional provision or federal law that requires electors to vote for the candidate who won their state. Some states require their electors to vote for the winning candidate, either by law or through signed pledges. But no elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged, according to the National Archives. And those laws are rarely tested. More than 99% of electors through U.S. history have voted for the candidate who won their state. Today's vote isn't even the last step in our nation's long and complicated process of picking a president. A joint session of Congress is scheduled for January 6 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 — likely Trump — will be sworn in on January 20.

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