Elec­toral Col­lege stamps Trump’s vic­tory

Protests con­tinue over de­ci­sive vote

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN AND VA­LERIE RICHARDSON

The Elec­toral Col­lege of­fi­cially voted Mon­day to se­lect Don­ald Trump as the 45th pres­i­dent as noisy anti-Trump protests across the coun­try fiz­zled, and Democrats ended up with an even worse black eye in the re­sults.

Mr. Trump de­fied pre­dic­tions that he would lose “dozens” of GOP elec­tors in a his­toric show of dis­con­tent. In­stead, only two Repub­li­cans de­fected — fewer than the four who aban­doned Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The pres­i­dent-elect called his 304 votes — sig­nif­i­cantly more than the 270 needed for vic­tory — “a his­toric elec­toral land­slide,” said it was big­ger than any­one in the me­dia ex­pected and again vowed to be a uni­fy­ing force in the White House.

“This elec­tion rep­re­sents a move­ment that mil­lions of hard work­ing men and women all across the coun­try stood be­hind and made pos­si­ble,” he said in a state­ment. “I will work hard to unite our coun­try and be the Pres­i­dent of all Amer­i­cans.”

His as­sur­ances, how­ever, have done lit­tle to quell un­rest among his op­po­nents, un­der­scor­ing both the fears he him­self stoked dur­ing his un­ortho­dox cam­paign and the ef­forts Democrats are al­ready mak­ing to try to dent his le­git­i­macy as pres­i­dent.

In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the Nov. 8 vote, ac­tivists de­manded re­counts in states where the mar­gin of vic­tory was close. When that failed, ac­tivists launched a cam­paign to pres­sure elec­tors, de­mand­ing they aban­don their can­di­date and ei­ther back Mrs. Clin­ton

or vote for a third per­son, throw­ing the elec­tion to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to de­cide next year.

They were less than gra­cious in their de­feat Mon­day.

“You just sold us out of this world,” screamed one woman protest­ing against the elec­tors in Wis­con­sin. “We’re all go­ing to go to war and die be­cause of you peo­ple. You have no right.”

“Ev­ery one of you, you’re pa­thetic,” an­other Wis­con­sin pro­tester shouted, as of­fi­cers hus­tled her out of the room where the vote was held. “This is not Amer­ica.”

The com­plaints were fed by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which says Rus­sian-backed hack­ers at­tempted to sway the elec­tion against Mrs. Clin­ton by re­leas­ing em­bar­rass­ing emails in the weeks ahead of the elec­tion.

Anti-Trump ac­tivists seized on that news, beg­ging for the elec­toral vote to be de­layed un­til all the de­tails were made pub­lic. They hoped Rus­sian in­flu­ence would scare some elec­tors into de­fect­ing from Mr. Trump in the vote.

“Our democ­racy is founded on the prin­ci­ple that these elec­tions are fair elec­tions. When that ideal is threat­ened, whether through in­ten­tional voter sup­pres­sion or by direct in­ter­fer­ence from for­eign ac­tors … our en­tire na­tion suf­fers,” said Lau­ren Beth Gash, an elec­tor in Illi­nois who voted for Mrs. Clin­ton.

Mr. Trump, in a Twit­ter post ahead of the vote, said the in­tense op­po­si­tion to his vic­tory has been un­seemly — and hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

“If my many sup­port­ers acted and threat­ened peo­ple like those who lost the elec­tion are do­ing, they would be scorned & called ter­ri­ble names!” he said.

Mrs. Clin­ton won the na­tional pop­u­lar vote by some 2.6 mil­lion votes but lost the Elec­toral Col­lege by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin. Her back­ers were un­bowed in de­feat.

“We stood on the right side of his­tory,” in­sisted Su­san John­ston Row­land, one of Mrs. Clin­ton’s elec­tors in Vir­ginia, which the for­mer first lady car­ried.

In Min­nesota an elec­tor tried to vote for Sen. Bernard San­ders, but state law pro­hibits de­fec­tors. He was re­placed by an al­ter­nate, ac­cord­ing to the Min­neapo­lis Star-Tri­bune, and all 10 of the state’s votes went to Mrs. Clin­ton.

And a Clin­ton elec­tor in Maine tried to cast his bal­lot for Mr. San­ders, but it was ruled im­proper, and he had to switch to Mrs. Clin­ton.

Four Demo­cratic elec­tors in Washington state did de­fect, with three vot­ing for for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell and one vot­ing for Faith Spot­ted Eagle, a Na­tive Amer­i­can leader ac­tive in the re­cent fight against a pipeline in the Dako­tas.

As for the GOP, anti-Trump elec­tors were re­placed in a cou­ple of states, and Texas saw two de­fec­tions. One per­son voted for for­mer Rep. Ron Paul, a Texan, while an­other voted for Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich, who was one of many Repub­li­cans Mr. Trump de­feated for his party’s nom­i­na­tion this year.

In Colorado, may­hem en­sued af­ter a Demo­cratic elec­tor, Michael Baca, re­fused to cast his vote for Mrs. Clin­ton, who won the state’s pop­u­lar vote, as part of what’s be­come known as the Hamil­ton Elec­tors strat­egy.

Their idea was to con­vince 37 Repub­li­can elec­tors to ab­stain or vote for some­one other than Mr. Trump, which would have left him with 269 votes, one shy of the 270 elec­toral votes needed to make his vic­tory of­fi­cial.

But a state judge in Colorado ruled last week that any elec­tor who broke with the pop­u­lar vote could be re­placed.

Trump foes booed and jeered as Mr. Baca was re­placed by Demo­crat Ce­leste Landry, who cast her bal­lot for Mrs. Clin­ton. Colorado Sec­re­tary of State Wayne Wil­liams took the brunt of the crowd’s ire, with some call­ing for him to re­sign or be re­called. Oth­ers yelled, “Vote your con­science!” and “The whole world is watch­ing!”

Mrs. Clin­ton wound up with all nine elec­toral votes, while Mr. Baca was re­ferred to Colorado At­tor­ney Gen­eral Cyn­thia Coff­man for po­ten­tial pros­e­cu­tion un­der state law.

Mr. Baca had been at­tempt­ing to vote for Mr. Ka­sich as part of the Hamil­ton Elec­tors strat­egy.

Even though the strat­egy flopped, Hamil­ton Elec­tors said af­ter­ward its mem­bers were “buoyed by wide­spread grass-roots and bi­par­ti­san sup­port to stop Trump.”

“We changed the pub­lic mind­set in a mat­ter of weeks from ut­ter dis­in­ter­est in the Elec­toral Col­lege as any­thing but a rub­ber stamp body to one where half the pub­lic wanted to get rid of it or post­pone this year’s vote,” the group said in a state­ment.

The elec­toral votes will be counted by Congress early next month, and Mr. Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20.

His elec­tion marks the sec­ond in the last five where the win­ner of the na­tional pop­u­lar vote did not win a ma­jor­ity in the Elec­toral Col­lege.

Amer­i­cans are gen­er­ally done with the Elec­toral Col­lege. A Marist-McClatchy poll found 52 per­cent of vot­ers want the na­tional pop­u­lar vote to pick the win­ner, while 45 per­cent back the cur­rent sys­tem.

But ef­forts to undo the Elec­toral Col­lege ap­pear doomed to fail­ure since they would re­quire the agree­ment of the smaller states that ben­e­fit from the cur­rent ar­range­ment.

In­stead, ac­tivists are hop­ing to do a runaround ahead of the next elec­tion, ask­ing states to pass laws forc­ing their elec­tors to vote for the pop­u­lar vote win­ner. If enough states agreed, they could pre­vail, even without chang­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“Whether it hap­pens in four years or 40 years, a na­tional pop­u­lar vote for pres­i­dent is com­ing,” Justin Nel­son, founder of One Na­tion One Vote, said. “Re­gard­less of who you voted for in this elec­tion, we can all agree that the can­di­date with the most votes should win, and ev­ery vote should count equally.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demon­stra­tors made at­tempts to in­flu­ence elec­tors in Austin, Texas, where 38 Repub­li­can elec­tors gath­ered to cer­tify Don­ald Trump’s win. Texas saw two de­fec­tions with one vot­ing for for­mer Rep. Ron Paul, while an­other voted for Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich.

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