The Electoral College officially named Donald Trump President of the United States
It’s official: The Electoral College has awarded Donald Trump the presidency and Mike Pence the vice-presidency, ending a hard-fought battle some thought could result in a surprise victory for Hillary Clinton.
In the November 8th election, Clinton won the popular vote by a substantial margin, but Trump ultimately secured the win by locking in 306 Electoral College votes. (The minimum number of Electoral College votes needed to win is 270.)
Electors — who are chosen by the Democratic and Republican parties — often pledge, or are required, to vote for their party’s candidate, so the Electoral College vote is ordinarily more ceremonial than decisive. But this year, activists pushed electors to “vote their conscience” and fly in the face of some state laws that replace or even issue fines to anyone who votes out of step with the party.
It was thought that because of Clinton’s 3-million vote lead over Trump and revelations by top U.S. intelligence officials that Russia likely hacked the U.S. election to harm Clinton’s campaign and bolster Trump’s, electors — who ultimately decide who becomes the president and vice-president — might take those factors into consideration when casting their ballots and vote for another candidate.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, 304 of the 306 electors pledged to vote for Trump cast their ballots in his favor; two electors voted for other candidates — Ron Paul and John Kasich.
And of the 232 electors pledged to vote for Clinton, 224 have so far cast their ballots in her favor, while The New York Times reports that four (all in Washington state) have voted for someone else — three for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, the chairwoman of the Yankton Sioux Tribe’s treaty council and an anti-Keystone XL pipeline activist.
This isn’t the first time electors have chosen not to vote for their party’s candidate. There have been 157 instances of “faithless electors” casting ballots for others since 1789. But there has been only one instance in history in which the Electoral College vote has had some unexpected effect on the outcome of an election — in 1836 — and even then the contested vice-presidential candidate was eventually confirmed by the Senate. In short, it would have been a huge surprise to see a mass wave of electors defecting this year.
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Onwards and upwards, dear readers.