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U.S. Congress Certifies Trump Presidential Election

by AFP

Mark Wilson-Getty Images North America—AFP

House speaker verifies in tweet that president-elect will be sworn into office on Jan. 20.

The U.S. Congress certified on Friday that Donald Trump won the November presidential election, as last-gasp objections by Democratic lawmakers were swatted away by an irked Vice President Joe Biden.

Lawmakers held a ceremonial final count in the House of Representatives chamber that affirmed the votes cast last month by the members of the Electoral College chose the Republican property tycoon as the nation’s 45th president.

“Donald Trump of New York has received, for president of the United States, 304 votes,” while his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton received 227 votes, Biden declared to assembled lawmakers after the counting was complete. Seven electors defied their states’ results and voted for other figures, but it did not affect the outcome.

Biden said the official count “shall be deemed sufficient declaration” for Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence to take their oaths of office on Jan. 20.

“The Electoral College results are in. Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States,” House Speaker Paul Ryan announced in a tweet shortly afterward.

The count is normally a rubber-stamp event weeks after the electors formally cast their votes. But it was not without drama, as at least three protesters interrupted Biden’s tally announcements before being removed from the chamber. One of them shouted “one person, one vote” from the visitor’s gallery, an apparent reference to the U.S. election system in which citizens vote indirectly for their choice for president through the Electoral College.

When U.S. voters cast ballots on Nov. 8, they did not directly elect the president but rather 538 electors charged with translating voters’ wishes into reality.

Trump won a clear majority of those electors: 306. Two Republican electors bucked their state tally and voted for someone other than Trump. House Democrats interrupted the count multiple times, objecting to electoral vote tallies in different states for several reasons, including Voting Rights Act violations and election-related cyber attacks.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas halted the proceedings three times, objecting to the results from the state of North Carolina due to “massive voter suppression.” Such objections are required by House rules to be made in writing, signed by a House member and a Senate member.

Biden, banging the gavel and repeatedly calling for order, asked each interrupting lawmaker whether the objections were signed by a senator. When one congresswoman said her objection had “not yet” been signed by a senator, Biden stood firm.

“Well, it is over,” the vice president said, to loud cheers and applause from Republican lawmakers.

Following an extraordinarily divisive campaign, and an election that saw Clinton swamp Trump in the popular tally by nearly 2.9 million votes, diehard Democrats had sought to throw up roadblocks to a Trump presidency at multiple turns.

Branding Trump a threat to the nation, they staged a weeks-long campaign, rallying at statehouses across the country and urging electors to break ranks and refuse to vote for him. But their effort failed to change the result in any meaningful way, and the objections at Friday’s count fell flat.

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