Today, in a series of ceremonies at America’s statehouses, the 2020 Electoral College awarded a majority of the nation’s electoral votes to the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, affirming that they will be the next President and Vice President of the United States, beginning January 20th, 2021.
“Altogether, Vice President-elect Harris and I earned three hundred and six electoral votes — well exceeding the two hundred and seventy electoral votes needed to secure victory,” said President-elect Biden in a speech following the ceremonies, adding: “Three hundred and six electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes Donald Trump and Mike Pence received in 2016.”
“At that time, President Trump called his Electoral College tally a landslide. By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then.”
“And I respectfully suggest they do so now.”
“The election is over, the votes have been counted, and the American people have spoken: Joe Biden will be the forty-sixth President of the United States,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez. “This is not an opinion. It is not a partisan statement. It is a fact. That’s why the Electoral College just certified this decision, and why Donald Trump needs to accept it.”
“An incredible coalition of Americans endorsed Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and their message. This is the first ticket in history to earn over eighty million votes.”
“Voters of different backgrounds and life experiences came together around our shared values of inclusion and opportunity for all.”
“Using their voice and their vote, they chose to put our nation on a new path, one defined by hope, integrity, and dignity. Joe and Kamala embody that vision of America, and their leadership will move our nation forward.”
An Electoral College Primer from The Green Papers
The Electors meet within their respective States or D.C. (again, there is no all-up meeting of the entire “Electoral College”– each such Elector meeting is, in effect, one of fifty-one separate meetings of fifty-one different “Electoral College“s [one for each of the fifty States plus D.C.]), with each Elector in attendance casting one “Electoral Vote” for, separately, President and Vice President of the United States.
No provision of the U.S. Constitution or federal law requires electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote in their respective jurisdictions from which they have been “appointed” in the general election; however, state law or state party rules (where these are authorized by state law to do so) might (or, for that matter, might not!) require that state’s electors to cast their electoral votes for the presidential/vice presidential candidate to which they have been “pledged” via the results of the popular vote in that state cast during the general election.
The electors record their votes on six Certificates of Vote and six Certificates of Ascertainment (three Certificates of each type for each of the two high Offices for whom the electors are voting) and then sign, seal, and certify each set. One set for each high Office is sent to the President of the Senate (currently Vice President Michael R. Pence), while two sets for each high Office are sent to the Archivist.
The Federal Register preserves one archival set for each high office and holds the other set aside, subject to the possible call of the President of the Senate (again, in the case of the 2020 Election, Vice President Pence) to replace potentially missing or incomplete Electoral Vote certifications among other sets of Certificates.
Most states’ electors met in person despite the pandemic. Mask wearing was generally required, and physical distancing protocols were observed, in part by moving the ceremonies to larger venues and disallowing public attendance.
Thankfully, the ceremonies all took place peacefully and without incident, though authorities continue to investigate threats that were previously made by right wing extremists against local and state elections officials.
Biden received the votes of all the states carried by Hillary Clinton plus Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia, the states that flipped from red to blue and swung the 2020 election to the Democrats.
Unlike in 2016, there were no faithless electors.
As mentioned, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received three hundred and six votes. Donald Trump and Mike Pence received two hundred and thirty-two votes. No votes were cast for anyone else.
The electoral votes cast today will be counted and tabulated before a Joint Session of Congress next month, whereupon Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory will be affirmed one more time. Biden and Harris will assume their new duties one month and a week from now. Harris will resign from the U.S. Senate to assume her new role as President of that body. California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce his pick to succeed Harris very soon.