TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas’ six Electoral College members cast their ballots Monday for President-elect Donald Trump, following the state’s popular vote but prompting boos and shouts of protests from some of the dozens of people watching.
The voting occurred in the Kansas Senate chamber, with each of the electors marking a separate ballot for Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The Republican ticket received nearly 57 percent of the vote in Kansas last month, and the electors - all state GOP leaders - said beforehand that they felt obligated to honor those results.
They stuck to their plans despite tens of thousands of anti-Trump emails in recent weeks. They said almost all of the emails came from outside Kansas and most urged them to support Democrat Hillary Clinton because she received more popular votes nationally than the GOP nominee.
“I understand why people were upset, but I didn’t see what the protests’ goal was,” Clay Barker, the state Republican Party’s executive director and one of the electors, said after the voting. “It didn’t change anyone’s mind. It just annoyed a lot of us.”
About 80 people crammed into a Senate gallery to watch the electors’ meeting, while several dozen more observed from the floor, mostly family members and other state officials.
Some applauded when the votes for Trump were announced, but there were loud boos. Several people yelled, “Shame!” and one woman shouted, “The blood is on your hands!”
The U.S. in effect holds a separate presidential election in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the Electoral College formally chooses the president and vice president. Each state has the same number of votes as it has members of Congress, giving less populous states an advantage. A candidate must win 270 of 538 electoral votes to be elected; all states’ electors met Monday.
Kansas and most states allocate all of their electoral votes to the candidate winning the popular vote, and the Kansas electors’ meeting is usually low-key and perfunctory. But some Trump critics said the U.S. Constitution allows the electors to exercise their own judgment.
“Their duty and their responsibility to our nation, to our democracy, is to vote for a person that is qualified,” said Scott Henson, a retired teacher and elementary school principal who came to the Statehouse to protest. “Their duty is to do what’s right for America.”
Kansas electors argued that the system ensures less-populous states aren’t ignored and that a few large cities or populous counties on the coasts can’t elect the president on their own.
Henson was among 19 people who protested before the meeting outside the Statehouse in below-freezing weather. In the Senate gallery, about 20 of them turned their backs after the electors cast their presidential ballots.
Besides Barker, the Kansas electors were State Treasurer Ron Estes, state party Chairman Kelly Arnold, Vice Chairwoman Ashley McMillan Hutchinson and Republican National Committee members Mark Kahrs and Helen Van Etten.
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