President-elect Donald Trump officially secured the White House on Monday evening, and Texas electors were the ones who put his Electoral College count over the top.
Despite the hopes of those who gathered outside state capitols across the country, protesting and urging electors to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or, well, anyone other than President-elect Trump, the 538 members of the Electoral College convened and cast their ballots more or less as they were expected to.
For most of the day the only "faithless electors" to pop out of the woodwork showed up in states that Clinton won. A Maine elector voted for Bernie Sanders, while a Minnesota elector stated he couldn't vote for Clinton, and was replaced by someone who could. In Washington, four Democratic electors opted for other candidates — three voted for Colin Powell and one voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, one of the leaders of the Dakota pipeline protests.
Protesters were outside the Capitol building in Austin by 8 a.m., long before the electors were slated to arrive. They held signs and urged electors to vote for anyone but Trump, according to USA Today. The protesters also submitted a petition with more than 265,000 signatures asking the electors not to support Trump.
Inside the Capitol, the process of casting votes was slow and was about as interesting as watching paint dry. (The state Legislature's Christmas tree and decorations did at least give those watching streaming video of the proceedings something more than just the electors and company to look at.)
The shouts of protesters stationed outside the Capitol since early that morning grew louder, until their cries — calling the electors by name and urging them to save our democracy — reverberated in the state House chamber.
When the vote was finally held, it was done by secret ballot. In the end, 36 of the state's electoral votes went for Trump, while one person voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich and another voted for former U.S. Representative Ron Paul.
It's pretty obvious one of the "faithless voters" was Chris Suprun, the Dallas-based elector who penned an op-ed in The New York Times earlier this month announcing that he could not in good conscience support Trump, a move that got him death threats, as we've recently reported. But it's not clear who decided to go rogue and support Paul.
Either way, Texas electors were the last of the states Trump carried to vote and they brought him over the 270 mark. Ultimately, Trump won the Electoral College with just 304 electoral votes, one of the smallest margins of victory in a presidential election in U.S. history. On January 6 Congress will convene in a joint session and certify the votes.
Texas lawmakers are already intent on preventing the "Suprun situation" from ever happening again. A bill has already been filed in the Texas House to fine a “faithless elector” $5,000. If the bill makes it through the state legislative session, anyone who decides to vote his or her conscience in the future will have to pay for it.
There's no word yet on whether state lawmakers now want to do away with the secret ballot system as well.
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