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SD GOP electors will vote for Trump on Monday

WASHINGTON -- Two months after calling for President-elect Donald Trump to drop out of the race, Gov. Dennis Daugaard will cast his Electoral College ballot for the Republican nominee.

WASHINGTON - Two months after calling for President-elect Donald Trump to drop out of the race, Gov. Dennis Daugaard will cast his Electoral College ballot for the Republican nominee.

Daugaard, S.D. Attorney General Marty Jackley and South Dakota Republican Party Chair Pam Roberts - a fill-in for Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, who will cannot vote Monday due to “family reasons” - will cast their Electoral College ballots for Trump, according to Daugaard spokesperson Tony Venhuizen.

While both Michels and Daugaard took to social media calling for Trump to drop out following the release of a video in which the Republican president-elect used explicit language to describe forcing himself on woman, Venhuizen said both will honor the wishes of the South Dakota voters.

“Gov. Daugaard and Lt. Gov. Michels have both said that they view their role as presidential electors as casting a vote that reflects the will of South Dakota voters, who voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton 62 percent to 32 percent,” Venhuizen said Wednesday in an email.

Venhuizen said the trio of electors will maintain their support of Trump during Monday’s Electoral College vote, but a select bipartisan group of electors recently requested an intelligence briefing on foreign intervention in the presidential election prior to the upcoming vote.

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Those 10 electors - including nine Democrats and one Republican - wrote National Intelligence Director James Clapper a letter in an attempt to learn more about any ongoing investigation linking Trump to Russian interference.

Despite that recent call for information, Daugaard, Jackley and Roberts will vote in accordance with South Dakota’s voters.

“Yesterday, the Trump transition team contact(ed) our office to verify the intentions of our electors - it is my impression that they are contacting all Republican electors,” Venhuizen said. “I spoke to all three - Daugaard, Jackley and Roberts - and gave Trump’s folks written confirmation that all three will vote for Trump/Pence.”

While Trump bested Clinton on the electoral map, earning 306 votes to Clinton’s 232, Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of more than 2.5 million individual voters. Despite the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral map, South Dakota’s three congressional delegates stand by the Electoral College system implemented by the Founding Fathers.

“I support the Electoral College because for less populated states like South Dakota, it reflects the will of the voters and provides a safeguard against presidential candidates ignoring the regional interests of the Midwest and Great Plains,” said U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Earlier this month, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds wrote a column in favor of the Electoral College, calling it “one of the most innovative concepts created by our Founding Fathers,” and noting it guarantees a small state like South Dakota at least three votes.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, who is on track to square off against Jackley in the Republican primary for governor in 2018, also supported the Electoral College system.

“In a nation as economically and geographically diverse as the United States, the Electoral College gives voice to citizens in small states and rural communities who would otherwise be silenced by larger, urban populations,” Noem said Wednesday. “It’s a critical and careful balance struck within our Constitution that ought to remain.”

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Under the existing system, if 37 Republican electors reject Trump, he would not reach the 270-vote threshold needed to become president. If that happens, the Republican-held U.S. House of Representatives would vote for president in January.

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