Electoral College meets to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in US election

14 December 2020, 10:34

President-elect Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)
Biden. Picture: PA

The results will be sent to Washington and counted in a joint session of Congress in January.

Presidential electors are meeting across the United States to formally choose Joe Biden as the nation’s next president.

Monday is the day set by law for the meeting of the Electoral College.

In reality, electors meet in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their ballots.

The results will be sent to Washington and counted in a January 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.

The electors’ votes have drawn more attention than usual this year because President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election and continued to make allegations of fraud.

President Donald Trump has not yet conceded defeat (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
President Donald Trump has not yet conceded defeat (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Mr Biden is planning to address the nation on Monday night, after the electors have voted.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, is clinging to his claims that he won the election, but also undermining Mr Biden’s presidency even before it begins.

“No, I worry about the country having an illegitimate president, that’s what I worry about.

“A president that lost and lost badly,” Mr Trump said in a Fox News interview that was taped on Saturday.

Following weeks of Republican legal challenges that were easily dismissed by judges, Mr Trump and Republican allies tried to persuade the Supreme Court last week to set aside 62 electoral votes for Mr Biden in four states, which might have thrown the outcome into doubt.

The justices rejected the effort on Friday.

Mr Biden won 306 electoral votes to 232 votes for Mr Trump.

It takes 270 votes to be elected.

In 32 states and the District of Columbia, laws require electors to vote for the popular-vote winner.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld this arrangement in July.

Electors almost always vote for the state winner anyway because they generally are devoted to their political party.

There is no reason to expect any defections this year.

Among prominent electors are Democrat Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Republican governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

The voting is decidedly low tech, by paper ballot.

Electors cast one vote each for president and vice president.

The White House (Patrick Semansky/AP)
The White House (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The Electoral College was the product of compromise during the drafting of the Constitution between those who favoured electing the president by popular vote and those who opposed giving the people the power to choose their leader.

Each state gets a number of electors equal to their total number of seats in Congress: two senators plus however many members the state has in the House of Representatives.

Washington, DC, has three votes, under a constitutional amendment that was ratified in 1961.

With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote in their state.

The bargain struck by the nation’s founders has produced five elections in which the president did not win the popular vote.

Mr Trump was the most recent example in 2016.

Mr Biden topped Mr Trump by more than seven million votes this year.

The new president takes office in January.

By Press Association