By Roberta Rampton and David Morgan
WASHINGTON The U.S. Electoral College began voting on Monday to confirm Republican Donald Trump as the next president, with no sign that electors would revolt and switch to losing candidate Hillary Clinton as some Democrats had urged. The Electoral College vote is normally a formality but this year it has taken on extra prominence after Clinton lost the Nov. 8 election on a state-by-state basis despite winning the popular vote nationwide.There were protests at some state capitols on Monday, but no sign that the Electoral College’s 538 electors, chosen by state parties, were switching to Clinton.There is almost no chance that Monday’s vote will change the outcome of the election, which gave the White House to Trump after he won a majority of Electoral College votes. The Republican businessman is set to take office on Jan. 20.A candidate must secure 270 votes to win the college. Trump won 306 electors from 30 states on Nov. 8.The Electoral College votes will be officially counted during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.”I don’t think you have to wait for a surprise on January 6,” said Robert Erikson, a political scientist at Columbia University, explaining it would be unlikely for Republican electors – most of whom have close ties to the party – to go rogue.”If it’s in the works, it sure has been a secret plot,” Erikson said.
At midday on Monday, electors in 18 states had voted, with 117 votes cast for Trump and 79 for Clinton, the New York Times reported. Some Democrats have urged Republican electors to change their vote to Clinton who won the popular vote by a margin of nearly 2.9 million ballots at the last tally, according to the Cook Political Report.That outcome, combined with revelations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into Democratic Party emails to try to sway the election for Trump, has put the spotlight on the Electoral College and spurred calls for constitutional reforms.
Twenty-four states have laws trying to prevent electors from swapping their votes. But occasionally, so-called “faithless electors” will ignore their pledge and change their vote.The most recent instance of a “faithless elector” was in 2004, according to the Congressional Research Service. There have been just eight since 1900, each in a different election.In a Facebook post, a 2016 Democratic elector from Maine, David Bright, said he would cast his vote for Clinton’s rival for the party nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who carried Maine in the primary contest.
At least one Republican elector – Christopher Suprun from Texas – has said he will not vote for Trump. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Suprun said he had concerns about Trump’s foreign policy experience and business conflicts.In Austin, Texas, on Monday, about 100 people chanting “Dump Trump” and waving signs reading “The Eyes of Texas are Upon You” gathered at the state capitol trying to sway electors to change their votes. Texas is the largest state Trump won in the election and its 38 electors were scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. CST (3 p.m. ET) to cast their ballots.There was also protests in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.The Electoral College was established in 1787 and assigns each state electors equal to its number of representatives and senators in Congress.When voters go to the polls to cast a ballot for president, they are actually choosing a presidential candidate’s preferred slate of electors for their state. (Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, Jon Herkovitz in Austin and Julia Harte in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and Alistair Bell)
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First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 02:46 IST