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California's Electoral College goes to Clinton amid protests

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California's 55 Electoral College members cast their votes in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, on Monday as expected in a largely ceremonial proceeding that marked the end of the presidential election season.

The members, all selected by California Democratic officeholders or Democratic candidates for office, met at the state Capitol, where the occasion was marked by dozens of news photographers and hundreds of protesters outside the Capitol holding signs saying "Not My President," ''Dump Trump" and "Electoral College: Save U.S."

California's electors are pledged to vote for the winner of the state's popular vote, Hillary Clinton, who won about 62 percent in November. Still, they were not required to state their selection out loud, instead placing their candidate markings on individual ballots that were collected and returned to a podium where the overall count was read aloud.

Many snapped selfies of their ballots before handing them over.

Clinton also won the national popular vote in the Nov. 8 election, but Republican Donald Trump won the formal electoral vote Monday to certify him as the nation's 45th president. For some the day was tinged with sadness as they had anticipated casting their vote for the first female president.

Hilary Crosby, a substitute elector and controller of the state Democratic Party, said she was feeling down about it until chatting with a younger female elector on the way in on Monday.

"She said 'It's another chance to vote for the first woman for president of the United States,' and I carried that," Crosby said. "I got to cast an electoral college vote, the first one that's ever been cast, for a woman to be president of the United States, and that is pretty exciting."

One elector, Monterey County Democratic Party Chairman Vinz Koller, sought to test the elector law in a federal court last week, but he lost his bid for a temporary injunction that would have allowed him to vote for a compromise Republican such as Mitt Romney or John Kasich.

Koller, a Clinton supporter, said he intended to continue pursuing his legal challenge, but he had decided to cast his ballot for Clinton, though she would not become president.

"I'm also hoping it will move people to take another look at the Electoral College and maybe wonder if this is such a great idea," he said. "The gap between the popular vote and the Electoral College vote has never been greater."

The only drama of the meeting came after the official vote, when elector Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, offered a resolution calling for an independent investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

"We do not let the politics of personal destruction drive the narrative of scandal over policy, stop us from standing up, speaking up, answering our call to service, and making a difference," Pelosi said. "That is why I move that we, California's electoral college members, demand an independent, bipartisan investigation into Russian interference into our election and steps we can take to protect the integrity of our democracy going forward."

The electors applauded loudly and unanimously endorsed the motion, which puts them in line with Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who has called for a special select committee to investigate foreign cyberattacks.

Outside the Assembly chambers, hundreds gathered for a rally to urge electors elsewhere to vote their conscience, which at times seemed more of an anti-Trump rally than a movement against the Electoral College system.

Democrat Judith Dillon, 68, of Placerville said she came to the rally because she feels the presidential election was fraudulent after learning that the FBI and CIA believe the Russian government was involved in election-related hacking.

"For all I know, Russia actually did hack into the votes — I mean, I hope not," she said.

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