Amid much pomp and circumstance in the crowded, wood-paneled Kentucky Supreme Court room, Kentucky’s eight electors unanimously cast their vote for Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States Monday.
Trump decisively won Kentucky’s popular vote, taking all but two counties and winning 62.5 percent of the vote.
Usually, the Meeting of the Electors is sparsely attended, but the 2016 election was far from usual.
Despite Trump’s commanding win in the state, Kentucky electors have been bombarded with emails asking them to cast their vote against Donald Trump. On Monday, a little more than 50 people stood on the capitol steps to protest despite the below freezing temperatures.
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Protestors said they still supported the electoral college system, but they were hoping candidates would “vote their conscience” and vote against Trump, who lost the national popular vote but won the electoral college.
“I don’t necessarily think it will work,” said Natalie Spiller, a medical student at the University of Louisville, holding a “Stop Trump” sign. “I think especially, you know, we’re in Kentucky, we’re in a very Red State.”
But Spiller said it was important for her to be out there and voice her opinion to let it be known she and others were upset.
Gov. Matt Bevin, in his statement before the electors cast their votes, concurred.
“I’m grateful for the people who on a cold, bitter day, have chosen to be here in protest,” Bevin said. “Of exactly what, I’m not sure. But nonetheless, the greatest thing is you can come without fear of challenge to your government on any front at any time.”
Since Trump was elected, some Democrats have tried to convince electors in states that went for Trump to cast their votes against their state’s popular vote. In some states, doing so would result in a fine or, in New Mexico, a felony.
In Kentucky, there is no penalty for voting against the candidate who wins the majority in the commonwealth, according to Bradford Queen, the spokesman for the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.
However, it was no surprise to Tres Watson, the spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, that all eight Kentucky electors were faithful. He said the process used to select the electors usually weeds out faithless electors.
In a brief history lesson before the electors voted, Ron Bryant, a Kentucky historian, talked about how the Electoral College allows the country to remain a Republic and stressed that the electors play a role in that process.
“It is not a perfect system,” said Bryant. “Over the years, over 150 people have not followed the will of the people. But that is not something that has ever changed a Presidental election.”
And on Monday, Kentucky’s electors weren’t going to become the first.