HARRISBURG (AP) — Donald Trump scooped up Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes on Monday, as the Republican's hand-picked electors cast their ballots in the ornate state House of Representatives within earshot of demonstrators outside and angry hecklers inside.
The protesters transformed a sleepy, heavily scripted ceremony, which is usually barely noticed by the public, into a closely watched cog in the machinery of the election process.
Electors shook off the protests, even if some bridled at the hecklers during the ceremony.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion," said Bob Asher, an elector and Pennsylvania's GOP national committeeman. "I believe in the First Amendment, right? And I certainly believe in their right to be here and state their opinion, so I honor that."
In the end, electors — a blend of senior members of the Republican Party hierarchy, GOP activists or early and ardent Trump loyalists — said they felt bound to honor the voters who had given Trump a crucial victory in Pennsylvania.
Joyce Haas, an elector and senior party official, said electors would "make the voice of Pennsylvania voters heard loud and clear."
Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes are fifth most in the nation, and gave Trump a critical boost as he became the first Republican since 1988 to win the state. Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by fewer than 45,000 votes out of more than 6 million cast, or by less than 1 percent.
In the hours before the vote, more than 200 demonstrators waved signs and chanted on the steps outside the Pennsylvania Capitol. Some drove more than two hours to be there, with the faint hope of changing the electors' minds.
"No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA," they chanted at one point. Later, they chanted, "No treason, no Trump."
Elizabeth Brensinger, of New Tripoli, said the electoral vote was not the end of the fight.
"I will not give up all hope until he's inaugurated, and after he's inaugurated, if he is, then impeachment isn't far behind," Brensinger said.
As the electors cast their secret ballot inside the House chamber, demonstrators outside hummed "God Bless America" and a heckler from the gallery shouted "vote your conscience."
After the result of the secret ballot was announced, the electors and their family members cheered and clapped. Boos and shouts of "shame on you" rained down from the public gallery above.
Later, as the 75-minute ceremony closed, a woman in the gallery stood at the railing and yelled, "You just gave us Adolf Hitler" before police led her out.
Lawrence Tabas, an elector and the state Republican Party's counsel, there had been "not one bit" of discussion among electors about voting for someone other than Trump.
In the weeks since the election, they reported receiving tens of thousands of emails, thousands of letters and hundreds of phone calls, enough that state police were asked to provide extra security.
"I listened to arguments, but no argument I had heard overcame the argument that Pennsylvanians voted for Donald Trump," said Andy Reilly, an elector and the Delaware County GOP chairman.
To some demonstrators, hoping that electors would change their minds was unrealistic, but it wasn't the only point.
"I still think it's important to take a stand to express yourself and show your principles," said demonstrator Tony White, of Williamsport.
The demonstrations drew a heavily police presence at one point as immigrant rights demonstrators protesting a federal detention center in Leesport chained themselves in the middle of the street in front of the Capitol. Police cut the chains and arrested 12 people, charging them with disorderly conduct, a spokesman for Capitol Police said.