Electoral College vote formally concludes election

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Tradition trumped suspense yesterday as members of the Electoral College cast the official, final votes in the 2012 presidential election, a constitutional formality on President Barack Obama's march to a second term.

The rite playing in state capitols involved party luminaries and tireless activists carrying out the will of each state's voters. The popular vote from state-to-state dictates whether Democratic or Republican electors get the honor, but the outcome wasn't in doubt. Obama had well more than the 270 votes required.

Obama was on course to get 332 votes to Republican Mitt Romney's 206, barring defectors known as "faithless electors."

California's 55 electoral votes, the largest cache in any state, helped put the Democratic president over the top by late in the afternoon. Electors also were affirming Joe Biden for another term as vice president.

"Everybody votes for president, but nobody gets a real vote except a presidential elector," said elector Mike Bohan of Oregon, which was in Obama's column.

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A bit of controversy erupted in Arizona, where a few electors voiced doubts that Obama was "properly vetted as a legitimate candidate for president" by raising debunked claims about his birth certificate.

The certified tally sheets are on their way to Washington, where Congress will officially count them on Jan. 6. Obama is to be sworn in a couple of weeks later.

The 12th Amendment directs the electors to meet and vote for president and vice president. Each state gets its equivalent in the 435-member House and the 100-member Senate. D.C. gets the other three electors. -- AP

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