Despite the outgoing president’s public tantrum, his ongoing attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election, or faux “Million Maga Marches” spearheaded by white supremacists, today the electoral college will solidify what we’ve known for weeks: On Jan. 20, former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States.
Per the United States’ Constitution, it is actually electors, not voters, who select the country’s president. So on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, (me thinks James Madison doth protest simplicity too much), electors of every state that make up the Electoral College cast their presidential ballots. And today is that day. It's also worth noting that the reason electors wait a little over a month after election day to vote is to give states enough time to count ballots, recount them if necessary, and settle any potential disputes.
*The year 2020 has entered the chat.*
This year, like all things, the election has been full of disputes — and it's all spearheaded by former reality star Donald Trump. But even Trump’s futile election lawsuits, based on zero factual evidence, can’t stop today’s Electoral College vote. And considering that all 50 states have already certified their election results, all the angry tweets in the world cannot impede this process.
So, how exactly will this vote go down today? The “college,” which consists of 538 electors picked by each states’ political parties, gather in their separate states’ for a meeting (usually in a state house or other federal building) to “record their vote in writing and then count them,” per CNN. The votes are then certified via six separate copies of a Certificate of Vote, which is later posted by the National Archives. The Certificates are then delivered to the Senate anytime before Dec. 23, Congress will meet on Jan. 6 to count the votes, Vice President Mike Pence will announce the winner, then voila! On Jan. 20, we’ll have a new president of the United States.
Of course, 2020 has made this often-mundane and arguably completely unnecessary process more difficult. While the ongoing pandemic has forced many electors to meet virtually, it’s the sycophantic nature of the Republican party that could, although it’s very unlikely, throw another wrench into the process. Due to a law passed in 1887, if both a senator and a congressperson submit written objections to a state’s vote, they can block the congressional count on Jan. 6, according to NBC News.
On Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), announced his intention to challenge votes in a number of states, but to date a sitting senator hasn’t agreed to join him. If one does, the Senate and the House will debate the objection separately. Both the House and the Senate have to agree to an objection in order for it to stand, and given that the Democrats control the House that is very, very unlikely to occur.
Also, because president-elect Biden won both the electoral and popular votes by a substantial margin, it’s unlikely that enough electors would ignore the will of the people and cast a ballot for Trump despite him losing the election in every conceivable way. And while electors are not mandated by law to vote for the person who secured the most electoral college votes in their states (there were 10 faithless electors who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016), there are fines and other penalties for not voting in line with the will of your state’s voters.
Which means that while Trump is continuing to lie about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election in order to coddle his bruised ego, on Jan. 6 his running-mate and hype man, Mike Pence, will announce that Joe Biden did, in fact, win the election. This year has been objectively horrid, in every possible way, but you can’t hate the sweet irony of Pence declaring Biden the victor. *chef’s kiss*