LANSING: President-elect of the United States Joe Biden took another step towards the White House as key states in the Electoral College system formally confirmed his victory in the November 3 election on Monday, effectively ending President Donald Trump’s long-running attempt to overturn the results.
State-by-state constituency votes, traditionally an afterthought, have taken on outsized significance due to Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud.
The November election results show Biden, the former Democratic vice president, won 306 constituency votes – surpassing the 270 needed to win – after four tumultuous years under Republican Trump. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will take office on January 20.
There is hardly any chance Monday’s vote will deny Biden’s victory, and with Trump’s legal campaign to reverse the results faltering, the president’s hopes of clinging to power will rest with a special meeting of the U.S. Congress. January 6 where the odds against him are as good as they are insurmountable.
At 78, the oldest person to become president of the United States, Biden was expected to give a speech Monday at 8pm ET (1am GMT on Tuesday) on Electoral College “and the strength and resilience of our democracy,” His transition team said in a statement.
Members of the constituency in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin voted for Biden on Monday, confirming his victory on the battlefield claims that Trump had unsuccessfully attempted to challenge in court.
Voters in Arizona, whom Trump lost this year after winning there in 2016, cast the state’s 11 votes for Biden.
“While there will be those who are upset that their candidate did not win, it is patently anti-American and unacceptable that today’s event should be anything less than an honored tradition held with pride and celebration,” the secretary said. of Arizona State Katie Hobbs. to vote.
Hobbs, a Democrat, said Trump’s claims of voter fraud have “led to threats of violence against me, my office, and those in this room today,” echoing similar reports of threats and intimidation in other states. .
With a complicated system dating back to 1780, a candidate becomes president of the United States not by winning the majority of the popular vote but through the constituency system, which assigns electoral votes to the 50 states and the District of Columbia largely based on the size of the their population.
Voters are typically party loyalists representing the winning candidate in their state, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, who give some of their constituency’s votes to the presidential candidate who won in the state’s Congressional districts.
While there are sometimes a handful of “rogue” voters voting for someone other than their state’s popular vote winner, the overwhelming majority stamp the results, and officials expected nothing different on Monday.
Trump said late last month he would leave the White House if the Electoral College voted for Biden, but has since continued with his unprecedented campaign to overturn his defeat, unsuccessfully filing numerous lawsuits defying the count. of the votes of the state.
On Monday he repeated a series of unsupported allegations of election fraud.
“Swing states that have encountered massive VOTER FRAUD, which are all of them, CANNOT LEGALLY CERTIFY these votes as complete and correct without committing a severely punishable crime,” he wrote on Twitter.
A group of Trump supporters called Facebook in protests all day Monday outside the Lansing, Michigan State Capitol, one of the hardest-fought states in which Trump lost.
But by the early afternoon only a handful had gathered, including 66-year-old Bob Ray, a retired construction worker. He had a sign saying “order a forensic audit”, “save America” and “stop communism”.
Trump called on Republican state lawmakers to nominate their own voters, essentially ignoring the will of the voters. State lawmakers have largely rejected the idea.
“I fought hard for President Trump. Nobody wanted him to win more than me,” said Lee Chatfield, a Republican spokesperson for the Michigan House of Representatives in a statement. “But I also love our republic. I can’t imagine risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution that retroactively changes Trump’s voters.”
Once the constituency vote is complete, Trump’s only remaining move would be to convince Congress not to certify the count on Jan.6.
Any attempt to block a state’s results, and thereby change the overall US tally, must go through both houses of Congress that day. Republicans would most likely fail to prevent Biden from taking office as planned on January 20 because Democrats control the House of Representatives and several Republican senators have acknowledged Biden’s victory.
In 2016, Trump won Electoral College despite losing the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. The formal vote gained particular attention when some Democratic activists called on voters to “rogue” against Trump. In the end, seven voters broke ranks, an unusually high number but still too few to influence the outcome.
Once in the Oval Office, Biden faces the daunting task of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, reviving the US economy, and rebuilding frayed relationships with US allies abroad from Trump’s “America First” policies.
Even as Monday’s vote goes smoothly, Trump’s efforts – such as encouraging state lawmakers to nominate their own “dueling” voting groups – have revealed potential flaws in the system, said Robert Alexander, a professor at Ohio Northern. University who wrote a book on the Electoral College.
“There are a lot of landmines in the constituency, and this election has really revealed a lot of them,” he said.
While election votes normally involve a bit of pomp and circumstance, most events this year have been significantly curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.