2020 Meeting of the Electoral College (Washington)
A panoramic view of the 2020 meeting of the Evergreen State Electoral College members, held in the Washington State Senate chamber in Olympia (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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