ATLANTA — Electors in Georgia on Monday followed through on their pledge to back President-elect Donald Trump, formally giving the state's 16 electoral votes to the Republican.
Georgia law doesn't require electors selected by the state party to back their party's candidate, and the group has been swamped by emails, letters and other appeals to vote for another candidate as part of a long-shot effort to deny Trump the presidency.
But electors chosen by fellow Republicans have always said they would support the outcome of Georgia's popular vote for Trump. The electors cast their written ballots in the state Senate chamber, applauding the total count along with invited guests watching from an upstairs gallery.
John Padgett, chair of the state Republican Party, said electors reported receiving between 70,000 and 90,000 emails urging them to back another candidate.
"But you're here today, and you've had smiles on your faces from the first time I saw you this morning to right now," he said.
Padgett also was chosen to serve as an elector on Monday, filling the slot formerly held by Baoky Vu. Vu, a naturalized citizen from Vietnam, said in August that he could not vote for Trump and may not support Trump in the electoral college. Vu's statement prompted intense pushback from the businessman's supporters, forcing him to resign that day.
About 200 people marched near the Capitol ahead of Monday's vote, chanting "Dump Trump, save America." Several said they didn't expect electors to ditch the Republican, who won Georgia's popular vote in November's election. Theo Beck, an Atlanta attorney, said she hopes Monday's show of opposition will spark some "awareness" in the country.
"I hope it begins a push and people don't get complacent," Beck, 38, said. "He needs to know that more than half of the country didn't vote for him."
Elizabeth Hensley, a graduate student from the Atlanta area, said she understands the protest isn't likely to change the electoral college outcome. But Hensley, 30, said she hoped it would inspire people who oppose Trump to get more involved during his presidency.
"We can't be passive as Americans anymore," she said, holding a poster board with the words: "Not whining, standing up for our country."
Randy Evans, one of the electors and Georgia's state committeeman to the Republican National Committee, said voters made their decision in November and electors were bound to represent that.
"The electors don't substitute their judgment for that of the people who cast their votes," he said. "They reflect the will of the people."