We’ve known for more than a month that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. At every step of the way, Biden’s victory has been affirmed, re-checked, verified, and reconfirmed. The last few weeks have been a futile exercise in denialism and disinformation by our current president, but to our great benefit, the systems and institutions which surround our elections have withstood the immense pressure.
State-level Supreme Courts have roundly rejected the Trump Campaign’s frivolous and deceitful lawsuits. Democratic and Republican state election officials alike have stood by their vote counts, certified results, and faithfully executed recounts to confirm them. Last Friday night, the Supreme Court even weighed in by refusing the last-ditch efforts by nearly 150 Republican members of Congress and Secretaries of State to overturn our election. The case, you might say, is closed.
Yesterday, the certified and duly elected members of the Electoral College met in their respective states to fulfill their own duties, and to cast their official votes. It is just the latest proof that our democracy and its institutions have been battered, but remain upheld by the careful vigilance of patriotic Americans.
So what comes next? What further ceremonies and hurdles await before President Elect Biden becomes President Biden?
The Electoral College votes of each state must be delivered to Congress.
Congress convenes a joint session under the chair of the Vice President to count the votes, which we know will total 306 for Biden, 232 for Trump.
- Congress can contest a state’s vote count, which some Republican House members have already promised to do. By rule, they must have at least one Senator and one House member to lodge a complaint. Right now, no Senators have expressed a desire to object, but we won’t know for sure until the 6th.
- If an objection is successfully made, both chambers, House and Senate, have their own debate and then vote on the objection. Since the House is controlled by the Democratic Party, it is unlikely they will agree to an objection. And if both chambers don’t agree, then the vote count defers to whatever results the state certified at last Tuesday’s Safe Harbor deadline. The results certified last Tuesday were, again, Biden 306 over Trump 232.
President-Elect Joe Biden is inaugurated as President Biden.
Typically, these proceedings are mostly a formality — one last confirmation of the verified, certified and delivered results we already have. These are the routine machinations of our elections, which Trump has sought to attack, but which can only hold when honorable and honest leaders are committed to our democracy. These processes which began on November 3rd lead unquestionably to an end on January 20th, with the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
We are fortunate that so many people have stood up to defend these processes from the unpatriotic and disingenuous attacks of the Trump campaign. But we shouldn’t take for granted that they will hold forever. Rather, we should work in the new year to strengthen our systems and institutions against future authoritarian assaults, working to reform our laws and elect honorable leaders who share our commitment to human freedom. Liberty and democracy are ours to enjoy, only so long as we cherish and protect them.