The US electoral college is expected to certify Donald Trump as president on Monday, despite a last-minute effort to thwart the elected Republican by Democrats. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38364137
As the institution’s 538 electors will vote at state capitols nationwide, a handful of Democratic electors have been organising to persuade their Republican counterparts to cast ballots against Mr Trump.
The electors are mostly elected officials or party functionaries whose names are not on the ballot. They are generally unknown to the public apart from one or two exceptions such as former President Bill Clinton, who is a New York elector this year.
There are 538 electors in all, one for each member of Congress. A candidate needs to take at least 270 electoral votes – half of the total plus one – to win the White House. Mr Trump won 306 electors from 30 states.
Under federal law, electors must gather on 19 December, with each elector casting two votes – one for president and one for vice-president.
Their so-called Certificates of Vote must be transmitted by 28 December to Congress and the National Archives in Washington.
On 6 January, US Vice-President Joe Biden will preside as Congress officially tallies the electoral votes.
Once the votes are counted, the results are final, and Mr Trump would be all set for his noon inauguration on 20 January.
In November’s presidential election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of nearly three million, but only gained 232 electors because she lost crucial swing states.
US intelligence agencies have purported that Russia hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee – leaking embarrassing messages about Mrs Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street and party infighting – in an attempt to assist the election of Mr Trump.
Ten electors – nine Democrats and one Republican – asked unsuccessfully for an intelligence briefing about Moscow’s alleged hacking role.
On Sunday, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta upped the ante by suggesting the Trump team could even have colluded with Russia on the cyber-attack, which the Republican’s camp denies.
Millions of Americans who consider Mr Trump unfit to occupy the Oval Office have signed an online petition calling for Republican electors not to vote as directed by their state’s popular ballot.
Some have posted electors copies of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s writings in his Federalist Papers, which state that the meeting of the electoral college “affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications”.
A handful of Democratic electors are so desperate to stop Mr Trump that they have even offered to vote against Hillary Clinton and unite with the other electors behind a consensus Republican candidate.
If no candidate reaches 270 in the electoral college, the House of Representatives must vote on the next president, and the Republican-controlled chamber would most likely choose Mr Trump anyway.