Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
All but two of Texas' 38 electors voted Monday to officially put Donald Trump in the White House, with one elector casting a ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and another casting a ballot for a fellow Texan, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
The votes from Texas were the ones that clinched the presidency of the United States for Trump, pushing the real estate mogul past the 270-vote threshold, according to Politico.
Elector Chris Suprun of Dallas had previously announced he would not support Trump. Another elector, Art Sisneros of Dayton, resigned as an elector, also in protest of Trump.
As electors voted, protesters' chants picked up outside and could be heard from in the House chamber. They appeared to be saying specific electors' names, followed by, "Save our democracy!"
The vote was unusually closely watched but largely expected: Both Suprun and Sisneros had shared their plans weeks in advance of the meeting. Suprun, however, did not announce until hours before the vote that he would instead vote for Kasich.
It was not immediately known who voted for Paul, the longtime congressman from Lake Jackson and three-time presidential hopeful. The process is secret ballot, meaning electors' votes are not public unless they choose to disclose them.
Speaking with reporters after the vote, Suprun said he had no regrets about having opposed Trump. Asked about the other elector who voted against Trump, Suprun said he had no idea who it was.
"I think I cast a ballot based on principles and values," Suprun said outside the House chamber. "You can never go wrong when you're doing that."
Asked if he knew anything about the other elector who had voted against Trump, Suprun told reporters he had "no idea" who it was. "Hopefully they'll announce when the time comes," Suprun said.
At least three other electors resigned Tuesday and skipped the vote, though apparently not for reasons related to Trump. Texas GOP officials said the electors had issues with eligibility requirements under state law.
The remaining 34 electors picked replacements for the four absent electors: Debra Coffey for Shellie Surles, Benona Love for Melissa Kalka, Sherry Clark for Kenneth Clark and Janis Holt for Sisneros. Each replacement won with at least 23 votes.
There was a measure of drama before the vote. A seating chart suggested four electors, including Suprun, may not show up. But with minutes until the vote, Suprun was spotted on the floor of the House chamber.
Once the meeting got underway, it took more than two hours for the vote to get started. One hang-up that stood out: It took three rounds of voting for electors to pick a chair of their meeting, a largely ceremonial role.
The vote, usually an afterthought following presidential elections, had been closely watched, especially in Texas. Suprun's defection had drawn condemnations from the state's top Republicans, who predicted it may lead to Texas becoming the 30th state where electors are required to vote for the winner of the statewide popular vote.
Gov. Greg Abbott responded forcefully to the defections on Twitter after the vote, reiterating his support for such a law: "This charade is over. A bill is already filed to make these commitments binding. I look forward to signing it & ending this circus."
Texas electors signed a pledge earlier this year at the state GOP convention promising to vote for Trump if he won the state. But the document was not legally binding.
Hours ahead of Monday's meeting, anti-Trump protesters began gathering outside the Texas Capitol. By the time the meeting began, hundreds of protesters had shown up at the Capitol, organized by both national and local groups to put pressure on Texas electors. They brought signs linking Trump to Russian president Vladimir Putin and encouraging electors to “vote your conscience.”
San Antonio art professor Margaret Craig held up a sign with a drawing of a uterus, one ovary twisted into a hand raising the middle finger – which she said spoke to women’s frustrations with what they see as Trump’s anti-woman attitude.
Daniel Brezenoff, who drew national attention over the last several weeks for his petition to encourage Republican electors to vote against Trump, hails form Long Beach, California but opted to be in Austin Monday to support Suprun, the only elector to have announced his intention to vote for a politician other than Trump beforehand.
Of the 4.9 million who signed the petition, about 265,000 are Texans, Brezenoff said.
“We had about six weeks to do this on a shoestring budget,” he said. “We flipped six electors” nationwide.
The crowd grew during the morning and early afternoon, but people began to disperse as 2 p.m. came and went without a vote. By the time the electors were casting their secret ballots, just a few dozen protesters remained outside the Capitol.
Realizing the sound from the Capitol steps reverberated up to the House chamber, protesters shuffled toward the south side windows and chanted, “Defend our democracy!” after the names of individual Texas electors.
Before the vote, Austin-based Ruth Waddy felt hopeful the electors would decide against Trump. “I’m hoping we say as a country that we don’t want Trump for president,” she said, holding up a yellow sign that read “We Are All Equal.”
After most electors voted for Trump, Waddy looked crestfallen, but said she was determined to continue demonstrating. “I’ll come back here with a sign every day. I don’t live too far,” she said.
Tammy Moriearty, who drove six hours from Lubbock and took a vacation day from work to protest, vowed to return to Austin to protest the inauguration Jan. 20. She said she hoped the electors felt “respected and supported and stood behind today,” as they made a difficult decision.
Speaking with reporters before the vote, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, predicted it would go off without much fanfare. He offered no opinion on Suprun, saying he will have to "defer to the judgment of the appropriate officials." He also gave no view on whether Texas needs an elector-binding law to prevent cases like Suprun's, telling reporters he will let state leaders make that decision.
As for the future of the Electoral College, Cornyn brushed off concerns, mostly raised by Democrats after Clinton's loss, that the system needs reconsideration.
"It's amazing," he said "The winners always seem to like it and the losers always seem to not like it very much."
Even when it came to vice president, not every elector could agree. One cast a vote for Carly Fiorina, one of Trump's primary rivals.
- The debate over the future of the Democratic Party came to Austin on Saturday, with all five candidates for national party chairman pitching activists on the path forward after a devastating loss in the presidential election.
- President-elect Donald Trump has officially selected former Gov. Rick Perry, a former rival turned loyalist, to lead the Department of Energy.