EghtesadOnline: The Electoral College’s 538 members assembled across the nation Monday with all signs pointing to their affirmation of Republican Donald Trump as the next U.S. president, ending the hopes of some Democrats for an unprecedented rebellion that would overturn the Nov. 8 election results.
From the Connecticut senate chambers in Hartford to the Alaska library archives museum in Juneau, the normally sedate gatherings are drawing intense interest this year because of a bid by a small group of electors to block Trump from the White House. Anti-Trump protests were reported in several state capitals, Bloomberg reported.
The unparalleled attempt to persuade at least 37 Republican electors to ignore the state-by-state, winner-take-all results of the election and back someone other than Trump is almost sure to fail. But it’s injected more anger and partisanship into the already divisive 2016 presidential campaign that will go down as one of the oddest in American history.
An Associated Press tally of Electoral College voting Monday found balloting going as expected, with electors in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin casting their votes for Trump based on his victories in those states. Pennsylvania, one of the election’s closely fought swing states, also awarded Trump all 20 of its electors.
The AP’s tally showed Trump with 215 electoral votes as of mid-afternoon, close to the 270 he needs to secure the presidency.
Chants of “shame on you,” echoed in the legislative chambers where the Pennsylvania electors were gathered, as it became clear that Trump would win all the votes there. “He’s not our president,” one woman yelled.
Among the states Democrat Hillary Clinton has been awarded so far today are Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, New York and Vermont. The one elector, so far, to go against the grain was in Maine, a state won by Clinton. He cast his vote for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s primary campaign rival, before being ruled improper and switching to Clinton, according to the AP.
The Electoral College was created by the nation’s founders as a compromise between those who favored a direct popular vote and those who wanted lawmakers to pick the president. This year, the Republican won the popular vote in 30 states that have 306 electoral votes, 36 more than the 270 needed to win. Clinton carried 20 states and the District of Columbia, for a total of 232 electors.
During the weekend before the voting, Electoral College protests played out in several major U.S. cities, as activists tried to apply last-gasp pressure on electors. Additional protests were planned today in some states, with the voting taking place in open sessions.
The balloting was happening at various times Monday, with the results formally announced Jan. 6 during a joint session of Congress in Washington. The presidential inauguration is Jan. 20.
One of the drivers for the attempt to alter the Electoral College result is that, by running up big margins in populous states like California and New York, Clinton beat Trump by at least 2.8 million ballots in the nationwide popular vote. It was the largest gap ever for a candidate who didn’t win the White House.
Turmoil among electors was further stirred earlier this month when President Barack Obama directed U.S. intelligence agencies to deliver a report on Russian hacking of Democratic Party e-mails, and the Washington Post reported that the CIA concluded the meddling was intended to benefit Trump.
Those developments prompted more than 60 electors -- all but one of them Democrats in states Clinton won -- to sign onto a letter unsuccessfully seeking an intelligence briefing about the hacking.
None of the electors who have signed the letter have necessarily joined in the call for Republican electors to back a consensus candidate that Republican and Democratic electors might support.
That wouldn’t have to be Clinton. Members of the Hamilton Electors, one of the groups pushing the effort to block Trump, have mentioned former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Ohio Governor John Kasich as potential alternatives.
There’s no constitutional requirement that binds electors to the candidates who won their state, but most are required to do so under state laws. That’s never mattered or been seriously tested because there have been few cases of what’s known as “faithless electors” -- the last occurrence was in 2004.
If the effort to flip 37 Republican electors were to succeed, it could send the final decision to the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.