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The Brief: Texas electors make Trump's victory official

Thirty-six of Texas' 38 electors voted for Donald Trump at a Monday afternoon meeting at the Capitol, enough to put the real estate mogul over the 270-vote tipping point to be confirmed as the next president of the United States.

An elector casts his vote for President of the United States during the Electoral College meeting at the Texas Capitol on Dec. 19, 2016.

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The Big Story

Texas' 38 electors cast their votes for president Monday afternoon at the state Capitol building, and while only 36 of them voted for Donald Trump, the winner of the state's popular vote, that was enough to put the real estate mogul over the 270-vote tipping point to be confirmed as the next president of the United States. Here's the story:

Thirty-six electors voted for Trump, one voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and one voted for former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. Elector Chris Suprun of Dallas had previously announced he would vote for Kasich over Trump. Another elector, Art Sisneros of Dayton, resigned as an elector, also in protest of Trump. Because Texas electors use a secret ballot system, it was not immediately apparent who voted for Paul.

Electors also failed to find unanimity when voting for vice president. While most voted for Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, one cast a vote for Carly Fiorina, one of the president-elect's rivals during the primaries.

Gov. Greg Abbott had sharp words for "faithless electors" on Twitter after the meeting, reiterating his support for a law requiring electors to vote for the winner of the statewide popular vote: "This charade is over. A bill is already filed to make these commitments binding. I look forward to signing it & ending this circus." 

It took more than two hours for the vote to get underway. One hang-up that stood out: It took three rounds of voting for electors to pick a chair for their meeting, a largely ceremonial role. Electors also had to pick replacements for four absent electors (three of whom, unlike Sisneros, resigned for reasons apparently unrelated to Trump).

During the meeting, protesters demonstrated outside 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.” As the vote got underway, protesters' chants picked up and could be heard from inside. They appeared to be saying specific electors' names, followed by, "Save our democracy!"

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Donald Trump's sons behind Texas nonprofit selling access to president-elect, Center for Public Integrity

No chemicals found yet in Corpus Christi water; investigation sent to attorney general, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

As Big Oil prepares for recovery, small firms still struggle, Houston Chronicle

UT System's Houston report may not come this month, Houston Chronicle

Today in TribTalk

"With energy production crossing new borders in the Gulf of Mexico, our research collaborations must do the same if they wish to keep up."
Richard McLaughlin, Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

News from Home

Knight Foundation, which supports public-spirited nonprofit journalism, will match up to $25,000 in small-dollar gifts ($1,000 or below) pledged to the Trib between now and Jan. 19. From co-founder and CEO Evan Smith: "We're honored by the faith you show in us at any time of the year, but we'll be doubly honored — literally — if you give now."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with the University of Houston's Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation on Mental Health on Jan. 26 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

•   A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center

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