WASHINGTON, December 16 – Never mind the November 4 presidential election – Monday was the date that counted as the Electoral College convened across the United States to choose the next president.,
In the arcane, indirect procedure used to select a US president, the 538 electors tallied their votes in state capitals in line with the results of last month’s election won by Democrat Barack Obama.
Few states require the electors to abide by the popular vote. But if all goes to plan, Obama will end up with 365 electoral votes to 173 for Republican John McCain.
Amy Bunk, director of legal affairs and policy at the Office of the Federal Register, said no major problems had been reported – but a handful of members of the public were calling the office to query Obama’s right to be president.
"People question whether he was born in Hawaii and so whether he is actually a natural-born citizen of the United States," she told AFP.
"Our general response is that under federal law, we have no authority to decide that."
Some Internet conspiracy theorists, claiming that the Christian Obama is a secret Muslim, also state that his birth certificate is a forgery, and that he was born in his father’s homeland of Kenya or even in Indonesia, where he has lived.
The Electoral College members – who were elected on November 4 on slates put forward by the Democratic and Republican parties – must now send their results to state and federal officials for receipt by December 24.
Given the Christmas rush of mail, the Office of the Federal Register advised that state authorities "may find it useful to alert their local Postmaster to the extraordinarily important nature of the mailing."
Then on January 8, the newly elected Congress will convene in joint session to certify the results – clearing the way for Obama’s inauguration as the 44th US president on January 20.