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 electoral votes 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 garnered 227 votes. It takes 270 electoral votes to be elected president.
During the vote, thousands of protesters converged on state capitals 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, several Democrats voted for other candidates and two Republicans broke with tradition and did not vote for Trump because of reservations about his qualifications for office. That was the most in a century of U.S. elections.
In New York, former President Bill Clinton voted for his wife, Hillary, as a New York Electoral College member on December 19 and afterward blamed "the Russians" and the FBI for her loss to Trump.
"She fought through everything. And she prevailed against it all, but at the end we had the Russians and the FBI deal and she couldn’t prevail against them,” he said.
Clinton said last week he believed Russia was responsible for the hacking and release of internal Democratic e-mails and documents that damaged his wife's election prospects.
He also referenced an announcement by the FBI 10 days before the November 8 election that it was reopening its probe of Clinton e-mails.
With reporting by AP and Reuters