Washington: America’s Electoral College on Monday confirmed Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, unswayed by a desperate bid by die-hard opponents to bar the Republican’s path to the White House.
Six weeks after his upset victory over the Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump sailed as expected past the 270 votes needed to make his victory official according to US media, clearing the way for him to succeed Barack Obama on January 20.
“We did it!” the 70-year-old billionaire tweeted after the results came in. “Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).” In a statement released by his team, the president-elect welcomed the “overwhelming vote” in his favor, while reaching out to the Democrats who sought against the odds to block him.
Under normal circumstances, the college vote is a little-watched, rubber stamp formality in which electors — most of them party members — officially cast ballots for the candidate that won the popular tally in their state.
This time, however, the divisive nature of the campaign, Trump’s provocative personality, and Clinton’s lead of nearly three million votes in the popular tally combined to raise the stakes.
The Electoral College vote works like this: when US voters cast ballots on November 8, they did not directly elect the president but rather 538 electors charged with translating their wishes into reality. Trump won a clear majority of those electors: 306.
Democratic activists casting the Republican as a threat to the nation staged a vocal, weeks-long campaign urging electors to break ranks and refuse to vote for him. To bar Trump’s road to the White House, they needed to convince at least 37 Republican electors to abandon their candidate.
According to a New York Times tally, four Republican electors cast their votes for someone other than Clinton, and two Republicans voted for someone other than Trump.
The Republican National Committee welcomed the result — and urged Democrats to accept Trump’s victory once and for all. The anti-Trump movement gained further momentum in recent days amid the uproar over allegations of Russian hacking aimed at swaying the vote in favor of the Republican.
Ten electors — nine Democrats and one Republican — wrote an open letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper seeking a briefing on the matter ahead of their vote, but their request was denied.
The final vote result will be formally announced in the US Congress on January 6, two weeks before the next president is to be inaugurated.