The Electoral College, a vestige of America’s ignominious past, remains a troubling element and was decisive Monday when the electors voted Donald Trump as president. For several weeks there was a concerted effort to block Trump, who received nearly the same number of votes from the electors as he did in the general election—he finished with 304 to Hillary Clinton’s 227.
Generally, electors conformed to outcomes in their states, and what little suspense there was ended with the tally from Texas. Two electors in Texas cast protest votes, and four Democrats voted for someone other than Clinton, including a vote for Colin Powell.
Clinton needed 37 votes to force the House of Representatives to step in, and even that situation would not have changed things because the Republican majority would have voted for Trump.
“We did it!” Trump tweeted with glee. “Thank you to all of my great supporters; we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).” There is still a joint session of Congress Jan. 6 to complete the certification.
For the fifth time in the nation’s history, most recently in 2000, a candidate with the most popular votes is not the winner. Protesters from around the nation gathered at state capitals, outraged by the results and demanding the Electoral College be abolished.
“It’s time we had a measure of participatory democracy,” said Congressman Charles Rangel in an interview Monday. “We need to have an election where one vote in California is equal to a vote in Montana.” He added that Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million, a fact that Trump denies as he continues to insist that voter fraud reduced his count.
Rangel also expressed his concern about the Electoral College, explaining its origins during the founding of the nation “in which the slaveholders insisted that their slaves be counted as three-fifths of a person and giving them a numerical edge in terms of representatives in Congress.” While slaveholders wanted superior numbers from a representative standpoint, they did not want the taxation measure concomitant with the amendment.
Because the Electoral College is a relic embedded in the Constitution, to change it is a very arduous and complicated matter that has to proceed through the states where a four-fifths vote is necessary, and even this is just the start.
Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, asked that all the bickering about the Electoral College be put on hold. “The historic election is now officially over and I look forward to President-elect Trump taking that oath of office in January,” she said in a statement. “For the good of the country, Democrats must stop their cynical attempts to undermine the legitimacy of this election, which Donald Trump won decisively in the Electoral College with more votes than any Republican since 1998.”
It should also be noted that Clinton won the popular vote by a wider margin than 10 winning candidates and that Trump has the biggest deficit in popular votes for an incoming president since the 19th century.