The Democratic ticket of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala D. Harris won the 2020 presidential election and will take office on January 20th, 2021 as the next President and Vice President of the United States.
This fact has been known for two months, yet due to Donald J. Trump’s refusal to concede the election — and his enablers’ insistence on baselessly challenging the results at every turn — each ceremonial stage of the pre-inauguration process has been unnecessarily infused with drama, including the constitutionally-required process of counting the Electoral College votes that occurs in early January.
By way of background, Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides:
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves.
And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.
Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of one o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer.
Two tellers shall be previously appointed on the part of the Senate and two on the part of the House of Representatives, to whom shall be handed, as they are opened by the President of the Senate, all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes, which certificates and papers shall be opened, presented, and acted upon in the alphabetical order of the States, beginning with the letter A; and said tellers, having then read the same in the presence and hearing of the two Houses, shall make a list of the votes as they shall appear from the said certificates; and the votes having been ascertained and counted according to the rules in this subchapter provided, the result of the same shall be delivered to the President of the Senate, who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States, and, together with a list of the votes, be entered on the Journals of the two Houses.
Yesterday, January 6th, 2021, was the sixth day of January succeeding a meeting of the Electoral College. At the prescribed hour, the United States House of Representatives and the Senate duly met in joint session to enable the President of the Senate, in the presence of each chamber, to open all of the certificates transmitted by the electors, and count the submitted votes.
Not long after the proceedings began, an objection was raised by Trump’s Republican enablers to the counting of Arizona’s Electoral College votes, upon which the joint session temporarily dissolved to permit the objection to be debated and dispensed with by each chamber in accordance with the aforementioned provision of the U.S. Code, which further states:
Upon such reading of any such certificate or paper, the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any.
Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received.
When all objections so made to any vote or paper from a State shall have been received and read, the Senate shall thereupon withdraw, and such objections shall be submitted to the Senate for its decision; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall, in like manner, submit such objections to the House of Representatives for its decision; and no electoral vote or votes from any State which shall have been regularly given by electors whose appointment has been lawfully certified to according to section 6 of this title from which but one return has been received shall be rejected, but the two Houses concurrently may reject the vote or votes when they agree that such vote or votes have not been so regularly given by electors whose appointment has been so certified.
During the debate over the Arizona objection, a terrorist mob that Donald Trump had previously spoken to that day smashed its way through the Capitol and began to spread out through the building, prompting the evacuation of the House and Senate floor chambers, as has been previously reported here and elsewhere.
Hours later, at 8 PM Eastern, Congress solemnly reconvened, with the Capitol having been made secure and the terrorists evicted, to resume its electoral vote counting duties as required by the Constitution and federal law.
The Arizona objection was overwhelmingly voted down, as was a subsequent objection to the counting of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.
The Arizona objection failed in the Senate by a vote of ninety-three to six and the Pennsylvania objection failed by a vote of ninety-two to seven.
The Arizona objection failed in the House by a vote of three hundred and three to one hundred and twenty-one. The Pennsylvania objection failed by a vote of two hundred and eighty-two to one hundred and thirty-eight.
Objections raised by House Republicans to the counting of electoral votes cast by several other states (like Georgia and Wisconsin) were not entertained by Congress due to the lack of support from a Republican United States Senator.
With Vice President Mike Pence gravely standing at one side of the rostrum and Speaker Pelosi at the other, the votes of each state and the District Columbia were read, acknowledged as properly cast, and accepted by Congress.
Late in the wee hours of the night, with the objections dispensed with and the counting of all the electoral votes complete, Pence announced that Biden and Harris had been elected as President and Vice President of the United States.
On social media, patriots who had stayed up to watch celebrated, with some posting celebratory memes and jokes about Biden and Harris having “won” for the umpteenth time. Of course, Biden and Harris actually won by securing the elector slates of states representing a majority of the Electoral College back in November, plus the electoral vote allotted to Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.
However, as noted above, since Trump has falsely claimed victory himself and filed a massive number of unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn the results in several states, it hasn’t felt to many like the election is truly behind us. Hence, the jokes about Biden and Harris winning over and over, and Trump losing.
Thankfully, the lawsuits have failed, the Electoral College has voted, and its votes counted by Congress. Democracy has prevailed, and the candidates chosen by the people of the United States have been properly acknowledged as the winners of the election. In less than two weeks, it will be Inauguration Day and the beginning of a new era in American politics, with Democratic control of both houses of Congress and the presidency for the first time in ten years.