Trump wins US Electoral College vote; a few electors break ranks

Trump wins US Electoral College vote; a few electors break ranks
Republican Donald Trump prevailed in U.S. Electoral College voting on Monday to officially win election as the next president, easily dashing a long-shot push by a small movement of detractors to try to block him from gaining the White House.
PHOTO: AFP

SEATTLE/AUSTIN, TEXAS - Republican Donald Trump prevailed in US Electoral College voting on Monday to officially win election as the next president, easily dashing a long-shot push by a small movement of detractors to try to block him from gaining the White House.

Trump, who is set to take office on Jan. 20, garnered more than the 270 electoral votes required to win, even as at least half a dozen US electors broke with tradition to vote against their own state's directives, the largest number of "faithless electors" seen in more than a century.

The Electoral College vote is normally a formality but took on extra prominence this year after a group of Democratic activists sought to persuade Republicans to cross lines and vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

She won the nationwide popular vote even as she failed to win enough state-by-state votes in the acrimonious Nov. 8 election.

Read Also: Valuable for Donald Trump to seek advice before calls: US Secretary of State John Kerry

Donald Trump wins US presidency in stunning upset

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    Donald Trump has stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States.

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    The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington's leadership, into doubt.

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    "Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump told a crowd of jubilant supporters in the early hours of Wednesday in New York.

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    "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans." During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America's democratic fabric, the bombastic tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.

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    His message appears to have been embraced by much of America's white majority, disgruntled by the breath and scope of social change and economic change in the last eight years under their first black president, Barack Obama.

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    Trump openly courted Russian leader Vladimir Putin, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.

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    The businessman turned TV star turned-politico - who has never before held elected office - will become commander-in-chief of the world's sole true superpower on January 20.

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    The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments.

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    Although he has no government experience and in recent years has spent as much time running beauty pageants and starring in reality television as he had building his property empire, Trump at 70 will be the oldest man to ever become president.

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    Yet, during his improbable rise, Trump has constantly proved the pundits and received political wisdom wrong.

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    Opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.

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    During the race, he was forced to ride out allegations of sexual assault and was embarrassed but apparently not shamed to have been caught on tape boasting about groping women.

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    And, unique in modern US political history, he refused to release his tax returns.

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    But the biggest upset came on Tuesday, as he swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.

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    Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to enter the history books as the first woman to become president in America's 240-year existence.

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    Americans have repudiated her call for unity amid the United States' wide cultural and racial diversity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country is broken and that "I alone can fix it."

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    If early results hold out, Trump's party will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.

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    So great was the shock that Clinton did not come out to her supporters' poll-watching party to concede defeat, but instead called Trump and sent her campaign chairman to insist in vain the result was too close to call.

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    "I want every person in this hall to know, and I want every person across the country who supported Hillary to know that your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her and to him and to all of us. We are so proud of you. And we are so proud of her," chairman John Podesta told shell-shocked supporters.

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    "She's done an amazing job, and she is not done yet," he insisted.

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    Musician Lagy Gaga stages a protest against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on a sanitation truck outside Trump Tower in New York City after midnight on election day November 9, 2016.

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    A street performer dressed as the Statue of Liberty hold photos of U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China November 9, 2016, after Trump won the presidency.

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    A "Naked Cowboy" performer supporting Donald Trump walks through Times Square in New York, November 9, 2016.

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    People react as they watch news on a screen to follow the results of the final day of the US presidential election at an event organised by the American consulate in Shanghai on November 9, 2016.

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    Protesters against president-elect Donald Trump march peacefully through Oakland, California.

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    A separate group earlier in the night set fire to garbage bins and smashed multiple windows.

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    Police officers chase a group of about 50 protesters.

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    University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California.

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    An invitee places a cookie depicting U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on a table at the US presidential election results watch party at the residence of US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, in Tokyo.

Protesters briefly disrupted Wisconsin's Electoral College balloting.

In Austin, Texas, 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.

In the end, however, more Democrats than Republicans went rogue, underscoring deep divisions within their party.

At least four Democratic electors voted for someone other than Clinton, while two Republicans turned their backs on Trump.

With nearly all votes counted, Trump had clinched 304 electoral votes to Clinton's 227, according to an Associated Press tally of the voting by 538 electors across the country.

Read Also: Donald Trump presidency: Memo from an old friend of the US

"I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans," Trump said in a statement responding to the results.

The Electoral College assigns each state electors equal to its number of representatives and senators in Congress.

The District of Columbia also has three electoral votes.

The votes will be officially counted during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

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.

Thousands of anti-Trump protests take to streets in US

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    Demonstrators marched in cities across the United States on Wednesday to protest against Republican Donald Trump's surprise presidential election win, blasting his controversial campaign rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims and other groups.

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    In New York, thousands of protesters filled streets in midtown Manhattan as they made their way to Trump Tower, Trump's gilded home on Fifth Avenue.

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    Hundreds of others gathered at a Manhattan park and shouted "Not my president".

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    A demonstration of about 6,000 people blocked traffic in Oakland, California, police said.

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    Protesters threw objects at police in riot gear, burned trash in the middle of an intersection, set off fireworks and smashed store front windows.

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    Police responded by throwing chemical irritants at the protesters, according to a Reuters witness.

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    In downtown Chicago, an estimated 1,800 people gathered outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower, chanting phrases like "No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA."

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    Chicago police closed roads in the area, impeding the demonstrators' path.

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    There were no immediate reports of arrests or violence there.

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    "I'm just really terrified about what is happening in this country," said 22-year-old Adriana Rizzo in Chicago, who was holding a sign that read: "Enjoy your rights while you can."

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    In Seattle, police responded to a shooting with multiple victims near the scene of anti-Trump protests. Police said it was unrelated to the demonstrations.

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    Protesters railed against Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep immigrants from entering the United States illegally.

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    Hundreds also gathered in Philadelphia, Boston and Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday evening, and organisers planned rallies in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, California.

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    A representative of the Trump campaign did not respond immediately to requests for comment on the protests.

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    Demonstrators face off with police as they take over the Hollywood 101 Freeway in in Los Angeles.

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    Antoinette Gaggero holds a Trump figurine making a Hitler salute that she found during an anti-Trump protest in Oakland, California.

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    Demonstrators riot in Oakland.

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    Police arrest a demonstrator in Oakland.

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    An officer examines a vandalized police vehicle as demonstrators riot in Oakland.

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    A man tries to remove graffiti as demonstrators riot in Oakland.

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    Patrons hold a sign as people march by in downtown Los Angeles.

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    A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest in San Francisco.

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    Patrons cheer as people march by in downtown Los Angeles.

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    A Donald Trump pinata is burned by people protesting the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States in downtown Los Angeles.

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    People march in downtown Los Angeles.

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    People protest outside Trump Tower in Manhattan.

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    Demonstrators protest outside the Chicago Theatre.

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    Demonstrators walk through Downtown San Diego.

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    A man gestures as he rides a hoverboard near a group of police officers on motorcycles during a demonstration in San Francisco.

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    People climb a pole outside Trump Tower during protests in Manhattan.

'FAITHLESS ELECTORS'

The "faithless electors" as they are known represent a rare break from the tradition of casting an Electoral College ballot as directed by the outcome of that state's popular election.

The most recent instance of a "faithless elector" was in 2004, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The practice has been very rare in modern times, with only eight such electors since 1900, each in a different election.

The two Republican breaks on Monday came from Texas, where the voting is by secret ballot.

One Republican elector voted for Ron Paul, a favourite among Libertarians and former Republican congressman, and another for Ohio Governor John Kasich, who challenged Trump in the race for the Republican nomination.

Republican elector Christopher Suprun from Texas had said he would not vote for Trump, explaining in an op-ed in the New York Times that he had concerns about Trump's foreign policy experience and business conflicts.

Read Also: Donald Trump: the unpredictable populist

On the Democratic side, it appeared to be the largest number of electors not supporting their party's nominee since 1872, when 63 Democratic electors did not vote for party nominee Horace Greeley, who had died after the election but before the Electoral College convened, according to Fairvote.org. Republican Ulysses S. Grant had won re-election in a landslide.

Four of the 12 Democratic electors in Washington state broke ranks, with three voting for Colin Powell, a former Republican secretary of state, and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American elder who has protested oil pipeline projects in the Dakotas.

Bret Chiafalo, 38, of Everett, Washington, was one of three votes for Powell. He said he knew Clinton would not win but believed Powell was better suited for the job than Trump.

The founding fathers "said the electoral college was not to elect a demagogue, was not to elect someone influenced by foreign powers, was not to elect someone who is unfit for office.

Trump fails on all three counts, unlike any candidate we've ever seen in American history," Chiafalo said in an interview.

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'GREAT ANGST'

Washington's Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, said after the vote that the Electoral College system should be abolished.

"This was a very difficult decision made this year. There is great angst abroad in the land," Inslee said.

Twenty-four states have laws trying to prevent electors - most of whom have close ties to their parties - from breaking ranks.

In Maine, Democratic elector David Bright first cast his vote for Clinton's rival for the party nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who carried the state in the party nominating contest.

His vote was rejected, and he voted for Clinton on a second ballot.

Read Also: Donald Trump says 'millions' voted illegally, calls Wisconsin recount a waste of time

In Hawaii, one of the state's four Democratic electors cast a ballot for Sanders in defiance of state law binding electors to the state's Election Day outcome, according to reports from the Los Angeles Times and Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspapers.

In Colorado, where a state law requires electors to cast their ballots for the winner of the state's popular vote, elector Michael Baca tried to vote for Kasich - but was replaced with another elector.

In Minnesota, one of the state's 10 electors would not cast his vote for Clinton as required under state law, prompting his dismissal and an alternate to be sworn in.

All 10 of the state's electoral votes were then cast for her.

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