By Eric M. Johnson and Jon Herskovitz
SEATTLE/AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Republican Donald Trump prevailed in U.S. Electoral College voting on Monday to officially win election as the next president, easily dashing long-shot hopes by a small movement of detractors to block him from gaining the White House.
Trump garnered more than the 270 electoral votes required to win, even as at least half a dozen U.S. electors broke with tradition to vote against their own state’s directives, the largest number of “faithless electors” seen in more than a century.
A core of Democratic activists around the country had hoped to convince Republicans to cross lines and vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who won the nationwide popular vote on Nov. 8.
In the end, however, more Democrats than Republicans split with their party. Four Democratic electors voted for someone other than Clinton, while two Republicans turned their backs on Trump.
Bret Chiafalo, 38, of Everett, Washington, was one of three electors from his state to vote for Colin Powell, a former Republican secretary of state, rather than Clinton, saying he believed Powell was better suited for the job than Trump.
The founding fathers “said the electoral college was not to elect a demagogue, was not to elect someone influenced by foreign powers, was not to elect someone who is unfit for office. Trump fails on all three counts, unlike any candidate we’ve ever seen in American history,” Chiafalo said in an interview.
With nearly all votes counted, Trump had clinched 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 224, according to an Associated Press tally of the voting by 538 electors across the country.
“I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans,” Trump said in a statement released by his transition team in response to the Electoral College outcome.
The Electoral College assigns each state electors equal to its number of representatives and senators in Congress. The District of Columbia also has three electoral votes.
When voters go to the polls to cast a ballot for president, they are actually choosing a presidential candidate’s preferred slate of electors for their state.
(Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del., and Roberta Rampton, David Morgan and Julia Harte in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)