United States

Majority of Electoral College Votes Go to Biden

The slate of electors certified by each state's election officials and signed off on by the Governor met in each state on December 14 to cast their votes for president and vice-president. Currently all states designate electors based on the votes cast in their state, with all but Maine and Nebraska giving all their electors to whoever gained a plurality, not a majority, of the votes. For this election, there were 538 electors and 306 votes were cast for Biden and 232 for Trump.

Following the vote Biden claimed, "The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame." Referring to the Texas lawsuit calling to vacate the vote in four states and dismissed by the Supreme Court December 11, he added, "It's a position so extreme we've never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honour our Constitution."

Republican Senate head Mitch McConnell, a main Trump enforcer, also emphasizing the importance now of defending existing arrangements said, "Our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January 20." He added, "The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden." He had not done so up to that point. Trump, following the Supreme Court's rejection of the Texas lawsuit, tweeted, "We have just begun to fight." He has so far not conceded.

In Michigan, a state where Trump had tried to have the vote vacated and had called on the Republican leaders of the Michigan House and Senate to seat a slate of electors in his favour, both instead spoke to upholding existing arrangements. House Speaker Lee Chatfield said that he "can't fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump." He added that if the Michigan House were to cast a new slate of electors "I fear we'd lose our country forever. This truly would bring mutually assured destruction for every future election in regards to the Electoral College."

It is evident that there is growing concern that the continuing conflicts represented by Trump's refusal to concede have not only put the election in doubt but will further undermine the existing constitutional arrangements that guarantee rule by the oligarchs. These arrangements have proven dysfunctional, the conflicts border on violent civil war, yet upholding the Constitution -- which did not prevent the last Civil War -- is the only answer given.

Congress still has to accept the vote by the Electoral College. The Senate and House of Representatives meet January 6 in a joint session presided over by Vice President Pence, as President of the Senate. He is responsible for counting the Electoral College votes from each state. If at least one member of each house objects in writing to a particular state's electoral votes, the House and Senate meet separately to debate the issue. Both Houses must vote to sustain the objection, otherwise, the votes get counted as intended by the state. If there is a tie, the vote certified by the Governor of the state decides the outcome.

Republicans in Georgia met December 14 and elected a slate of electors in Trump's favour, though the Governor there certified Biden's win and the Electoral College vote went to Biden. The Republicans have not yet sent their slate of electors to Congress, but they could. Other individual members, such as those supporting the Texas lawsuit, could object as well. So far no Senator has come forward and McConnell has urged them not to, trying to avoid a vote that could further split Republicans. At least four Republican Senators have said they would oppose any such move: Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah. This would be enough to block any effort to overturn the Electoral College results. Given this, Trump is more likely to pursue other avenues, though his supporters might persist.

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 49 - December 19, 2020

Article Link:
United States: Majority of Electoral College Votes Go to Biden


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