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Iowa’s six electoral votes officially cast for Trump

Dec 20, 2016
Photo by: Erin Murphy As Gov. Terry Branstad, left, looks on, Secretary of State Paul Pate hands out ballots to Iowa’s presidential electors, including, from left, James Whitmer, Dylan Keller, Alan Braun and Don Kass, during a meeting Monday at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.

BY ERIN MURPHY

Lee Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — Amid reports of electoral defections and noisy protests in other states, Iowa’s presidential electors on Monday quietly cast the state’s six Electoral College votes for President-elect Donald Trump.

During a brief and uneventful meeting at the Iowa Capitol, the six presidential electors all cast their votes for Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The Republican ticket won the Nov. 8 presidential election in Iowa by nearly 10 percentage points.

“Here’s the big surprise,” Gov. Terry Branstad joked Monday when Iowa’s electoral votes were cast and tallied.

Normally routine procedures that go largely unwatched by the public, Monday’s Electoral College meetings, held in state capitals across the country, drew more attention thanks in part to a public campaign by Trump’s critics to convince electors in states that Trump won to cast their electoral votes for a different candidate.

According to news reports, it actually was Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who lost electoral votes in the rare cases in which electors did not cast a vote for the candidate who won his or her state in the Nov. 8 election.

Protesters shouted and sang during the Electoral College meeting in Wisconsin.

Although dozens packed a small conference room in the Iowa Capitol for Monday’s meeting and a few dozen more stood outside after the room filled up, the brief meeting occurred without incident.

“Thank you for coming to the Capitol,” Branstad said, “and thank you for being respectful of this process. We appreciate that very much.”

Electors in states won by Trump, including Iowa, have in recent weeks been inundated with correspondence encouraging them to vote for a candidate other than Trump.

James Whitmer, an elector from Waterloo and a Republican, said that in the past three mailing days, he received 1,000 letters in addition to 500 emails, 500 Facebook messages and 20 phone calls urging him to cast his vote for someone other than Trump.

“I had no idea that was going to happen,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said the deluge of messages did not deter him from casting his vote for Trump.

Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, told reporters in a conference call earlier Monday that the campaign to sway presidential electors across the country was just “noise.”

“Much has been made of it, but it was always going to be a routine event,” Kaufmann said. “Whoever won the popular vote gets Iowa’s six electors. That’s how it’s always been. ...

“This is not about personal opinion. This is about the results of a general election.”

Presidential electors are nominated by the state’s political party organizations. When the state votes on Election Day, the victorious party’s electors are appointed to cast the state’s electoral votes.

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