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VOL. 40 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 16, 2016

Tennessee electors unanimously vote for Trump for president

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee's 11 presidential electors on Monday cast their ballots for Republican Donald Trump amid protesters demanding they stray from their legal obligation to support the candidate who carried the state.

None of the electors had given any indication they would budge from their support for Trump, but that didn't stop electors from receiving thousands of letters, emails and phone calls urging them vote for someone else.

The vote came with little fanfare, other than a few outbursts from the gallery. One audience member tried to read out some Scripture before the ballots were cast, but was told he could not speak.

"We certainly appreciate the Scripture, but this is a procedure the Electoral College can only proceed in," State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said from the podium. "The answer is no."

One protester shouted profanity at electors, and held up a sign in the gallery reading: "In your gut you know he's n uts." She was ultimately escorted from the chamber.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who during the campaign had called for Trump to step aside as the nominee, presided over parts the meeting and praised the electors.

"Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, I want to do everything I can to make him and Mike Pence be successful in that role," Haslam said.

"While some people don't like the result, and obliviously we had protesters today who didn't like that, ultimately you have to love the process that we're a part of in this country. It's the best process there is."

Protesters held rallies at state Capitols around the country, including in Nashville. The group called the December 19 Coalition said it wanted to try to persuade electors to change their minds given the CIA and FBI's conclusions that Russia interfered in the presidential election with the goal of supporting Trump.

When the ballots were first collected, officials not iced that one elector, Liz Holiway of Harriman, had inadvertently failed to mark the box to vote for Trump. The ballot was sent back to allow her to check the box.

"I just didn't have my glasses on," she said with a laugh. "I'm a die-hard Republican, I'm on the state executive committee and have been for 25 years. So I wouldn't make a mistake like that!"

Outside, several dozen protesters picketed, carrying signs that read, "Defend democracy," ''#Draft Kasich," and "Vote your conscience." They chanted, "This is what democracy looks like."

Craig Mathews drew up a sign that showed Trump kissing Russian President Vladimir Putin with the caption, "From Russia with love."

Mathews said he viewed the electoral college vote Monday as the last hope to keep Trump out of office.

"Certainly by now they're aware that the election as it happened was a miscarriage of democracy, as you will," Mathews said of the electors before Monday's vote. "Trump would've nev er carried the vote without the Russian influence. ... I believe it's our last chance to save the republic from what (Trump) has got in mind."

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