WASHINGTON — The end of the 2016 presidential election is at hand.
A joint session of Congress is set to count the Electoral College votes on Friday, a traditional ending to a most unconventional presidential election.
Barring something bizarre happening, Republican Donald Trump will be declared the winner and will be sworn in at his inauguration on Jan. 20. Vice President Joe Biden will preside over the vote count in his role as president of the Senate.
All 538 electors met in their respective state capitals in December to cast their votes. Trump finished with 304 votes and Democrat Hillary Clinton with 227, according to a tally by The Associated Press. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
Trump won even though Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes. His election has generated much angst among Democrats and others who oppose the billionaire businessman. But they have been powerless to change the outcome.
Despite rumblings of a revolt, only two Republican electors — both from Texas — cast protest votes for someone other than Trump. Clinton lost four Democratic electors in Washington state and one in Hawaii.
The secretary of state’s office in Washington said the four “faithless” electors would be fined $1,000 apiece.
Friday’s vote count marks the last chance for Democrats and other anti-Trump forces to disrupt Trump’s election. But even if they are successful, the most Democrats could do is slow the process. They don’t have the votes to overturn the outcome.
Under federal law, if at least one senator and one House member object to the vote from any state, the House and Senate would meet separately to decide the merits of the objection.
Several House Democrats have talked about filing an objection, but no senator has publicly backed the idea. Regardless, with Republicans controlling both chambers, any objection would have little chance of affecting the outcome.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., considered objecting but said, “This is not about trying to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.”
Perlmutter said he wants to register his objection to Russia after U.S. intelligence community findings that Moscow engaged in computer hacking to sway the election in favor of Trump. America’s top intelligence official told Congress on Thursday that Russia undoubtedly interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“We cannot allow a foreign nation to ever influence our elections because it harms our liberty, freedom and independence,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “This is bigger than just one election, and for the sake of our democracy, we must remain vigilant.”
Trump has not fully embraced the findings of the intelligence community. In fact, he has repeatedly mocked America’s intelligence officials.
This week, Trump went on Twitter to question why an intelligence briefing he is to receive was delayed. However, intelligence officials said there had been no delay. Still, Trump wrote: “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”