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US Electoral College set to formalise Trump victory

world Updated: Dec 19, 2016 22:18 IST
Yashwant Raj
electoral college

A demonstration urging members of the Electoral College to vote against US president-elect Donald Trump on the eve of the vote on Sunday.(Agencies)

As US president-elect Donald Tump holidays with his family in Florida, he will be keeping an eye on the Electoral College vote taking place on Monday to formalise his election or — as his diehard detractors are trying to do but with no real chance of success — to stop him.

Considered a formality, this electoral process has been thrust into the limelight this election because of the continued opposition to Trump, mostly from Democrats but also some Republicans, with plenty of drama thrown in, including death threats to electors.

Ash Khare, an Indian-American Republican elector from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has become something of a media celebrity, going public with the flood of letters he has been getting from around the country to vote against Trump.

Hollywood, which is largely Democratic, has also jumped in with leading stars such as Martin Sheen urging Republican electors in a video released last week to break away from the party and vote against Trump. Anyone but Trump, they are saying.

Trump picked up 307 electoral college votes winning the November 8 election with the rest 231 — from the total of 538 — going to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. That gives him the presidency surely, but not formally.

The 538 electors will meet in state capitals and Washington on Monday to cast two votes each to elect a president and a vice-president. At the end of the day, the states will tally the votes and send their respective totals to the National Archives.

They will be counted state-wise on January 6, during a joint session of Congress chaired by the Senate president, Vice-President Joe Biden. If the result is around the same as now, the real estate tycoon will formally become the 45th president-elect.

Trump needs half of 538 votes plus one, 270, to get there. He has 307, but some of the electors have the option to not vote for him. While most states tie their electors to the nominee who won those states, others allow theirs to vote for anyone.

The president-elect’s opponents need to flip 37 of his electors to stop him short of the 270 threshold, but only one of them has so far said he will be voting against the president-elect. The rest are staying with him, according to multiple news reports.

After interviewing 330 of them across the country, the Associated Press concluded that while Democrats remained greatly agitated about Trump and will try their best, they didn’t have the numbers to overturn his election.

Indian-born Khare told an ABC news affiliate, “I am for Mr. Trump. I am for his agenda. I am totally excited. The way he is picking his cabinet, the way he is doing his thing. I believe the greatest days of this country are yet to come.”

Khare, an engineer and a long-time Republican, has said he estimates receiving 3,000 to 5,000 emails, letters, and phone calls a day from as far away as France, Germany, and Australia, and has difficulty tracking his bills among them.

Khare is staying with Trump and perhaps most others like him. And the Trump camp senses victory already. Spokesman Jason Miller was tweeting and retweeting links ahead of the voting about the impending victory, captioning them “Big league”.