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President Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote by a margin of 304-227 over Hillary Clinton, but Clinton beat Trump by more than 2.8 million votes in the popular vote last November, according to an official tally released by the Federal Election Commission.
The FEC announced the official 2016 presidential election results Feb. 10 in its weekly digest of news items, following a decades-old practice of publishing final national election results based on state vote counts. The announcement followed repeated Trump claims that the popular-vote total was marred by fraud—claims that have been challenged by a Democratic FEC commissioner.
The FEC total showed Clinton with more than 65.8 million votes, compared to Trump’s total of just under 63 million, a difference of 2,868,691 votes. Clinton received just over 48 percent of the votes, compared to 46 percent for Trump.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson garnered nearly 4.5 million votes—just over 3 percent of the total—while Green Party candidate Jill Stein got nearly 1.5 million votes for about 1 percent.
Candidates have won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College before. Most recently, Al Gore tallied 543,895 more votes than George W. Bush in the 2000 election won by Bush. Gore won the popular vote by about 0.5 percent—48.4 percent to 47.9 percent.
The FEC’s popular-vote count usually is a little-noticed footnote to election history, but it gained significance this year due to Trump’s repeated claims, without evidence, that he lost the popular vote due to election fraud.
Trump claimed on Twitter in November that he won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He has kept up the drumbeat, even after his inauguration last month, reportedly telling a group of senators in a recent meeting that he lost the state vote in New Hampshire because of fraudulent voters bused in from Massachusetts.
That last claim provoked a challenge from a veteran Democratic FEC commissioner, Ellen Weintraub, who noted that fraudulent voting is a crime and called on Trump to “immediately share evidence with the public and with appropriate law-enforcement authorities so that his allegations may be investigated promptly and thoroughly.”
Weintraub’s statement said that, as an FEC commissioner, she was acutely aware that “our democracy rests on the faith of the American people in the integrity of their elections.” Her statement suggested that faith was being undermined by Trump’s continuing charges of elections fraud.
Trump and his administration officials have not publicly pointed to any specific evidence of fraud but have called for a new national commission to study the issue. Trump has announced the commission would be headed by Vice President Mike Pence but hasn’t provided any other details.
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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com
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