Donald Trump secured the necessary 270 electoral votes on Monday to formally be elected as the 45th president of the United States.
While millions had petitioned the 538 members of the Electoral College to make Hillary Clinton president instead, and tens of thousands took to the streets in the weeks after the election to protest Trump’s win, the official results came in as expected.
Trump won the popular vote in 30 states and one of Maine’s districts — which, along with Nebraska, splits up its electors by district — giving him 306 electoral votes. He only needed 270 to win.
While Clinton won nearly 2.9 million more votes than he did overall because she carried population-heavy states like California and New York, she won the popular vote in only 20 states plus DC, giving her 232 electoral votes.
Were there any ‘faithless’ electors?
Three electors in Washington voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one voted for Native American elder Faith Spotted Eagle instead of Clinton — giving her four fewer electoral votes than expected.
One elector in Minnesota tried to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, but was replaced with another who voted for Clinton. An elector in Maine tried to vote for Sanders, too, but switched his vote to Clinton after a second round of voting.
In Colorado, an elector voted for Republican presidential nominee John Kasich before being replaced with an elector who did vote for Clinton.
Members of the Electoral College who go against their state or district’s popular vote are rather ominously called “faithless electors.”
Clinton would have needed 38 faithless Republican electors to vote for her instead in order to become president — an insurmountable task.
What kept electors from turning faithless?
Several barriers are in place preventing electors from turning “faithless.”
Thirty states plus DC have laws on the books “binding” their electors to vote for the candidate who won the state’s popular vote, and electors are usually selected by the political parties in each state, Neale told Business Insider in November. The electors in Washington will each have to pay a $1,000 fine, according to state law.
Plus, as a final check on the electoral process, members of Congress can formally protest faithless elector votes, and have them thrown out, when they officially count the ballots in a joint session on January 6.
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