The U.S. Constitution laid out a principle that our Presidential elections would not be national but rather a contest waged within the individual states. The states choose electors based upon their total members of Congress. Both major political parties vote on slates of electors and the party of the candidate which wins that state sends electors to the state capital to cast electoral votes for President.
America’s 50 states plus the District of Columbia account for 538 electoral votes. A candidate needs a majority vote count of 270 in the Electoral College to win outright. Failing a majority, the state delegations in the U.S. House of Representatives would cast votes for President, which hasn’t happened since 1800.
The results of the November 8 Presidential election had Republican Donald Trump in possession of 306 electoral votes and Democrat Hillary Clinton with 232. When the electors voted today in the state capitals, there were six electors in states which voted for Clinton who chose another candidate, including Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Two of the 38 electors in Texas, which voted for Trump, voted for others – Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul.
A costly campaign was mounted to get electors from states won by Trump to vote for someone else. There were national TV ads featuring actors such as Martin Sheen (who played a President on the TV series The West Wing) encouraging Republican electors to switch their votes. Republican electors were also bombarded with thousands of e-mails, letters and phone calls to persuade them. Some electors reported receiving death threats.