WASHINGTON -- The Electoral College has finalized Republican Donald Trump's election as U.S. president, rejecting a last-minute push by some Democrats to sway its members.
The December 19 vote awarding Trump 304 of the 270 votes he needed to claim victory is the next-to-last step in the presidential election process, as laid out in the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
Clinton collected 230 votes, though thousands of protesters converged on state capitols across the country urging electors to abandon Trump.
"I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next president of the United States," Trump said. "With this historic step, we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the president of all Americans."
The vote tally will be officially counted and validated by a joint session of Congress in January, setting up Trump's scheduled inauguration on January 20.
The complicated Electoral College system was set up by the crafters of the U.S. Constitution to balance out the voting power of urban, more populous states against that of rural, less populated states.
The way the system is set up means that sometimes a candidate can lose the overall popular vote but still win the majority of the Electoral College votes. That's what happened with Trump in the November 8 election. His opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, won more than 2 million more popular votes than he did.
Not all Electoral College members are obligated to vote for the winner of their home state's election.
For that reason, some Democrats and others had attempted to persuade some college members to choose a Republican other than Trump.
Supporters of that effort also cite reports that Russian government-backed hackers influenced the presidential campaign, and suspicions about Trump's business dealings.
The overwhelming majority of the electors who gathered in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on December 19 ignored that effort.
Still, four Democrats and two Republicans broke with tradition and did not vote for Trump because of serious reservations about his qualifications for office. That was the most in a century of U.S. elections.
With reporting by AP and Reuters