Presidential electors across the United States are voting in the Electoral College on Monday, set to officially confirm that former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in last month’s election for a new four-year term as the American leader.
Biden, a Democratic fixture on the U.S. political scene for nearly a half century, is likely to win the Electoral College vote by a 306-232 margin, making Trump, a Republican, the fifth U.S. president in the country’s 244-year history to lose a bid for re-election after a single term in the White House.
The Electoral College vote is normally a routine formality in the quadrennial U.S. presidential election calendar. But since the November 3 national vote, Trump has repeatedly claimed without credible evidence the vote in key battleground states he lost to Biden by varying amounts was fraudulent, costing him re-election.
Trump and his allies have lost more than 50 lawsuits in battleground states contesting the vote.
Typically, all the electoral votes in each state are recorded for the popular vote winner in that state, although two small states — Nebraska and Maine —divide the votes by congressional district. This year, Biden picked up a single extra elector in Nebraska while losing the statewide vote, while Trump did the same in Maine.
Trump maintained his broadsides against the Biden victory on Sunday, contending on Twitter, “Swing States that have found massive VOTER FRAUD, which is all of them, CANNOT LEGALLY CERTIFY these votes as complete & correct without committing a severely punishable crime.” He retweeted himself on Monday morning as the Electoral College voting started.
The electors often meet in state capitol buildings, but with tensions running high Monday, some of the Electoral College voting is occurring at undisclosed locations and officials in at least two states are providing armed protection for the electors as they arrive.
The voting is occurring at various times in the different states, but at least half the states are live streaming their votes in a show of transparency.
Biden is planning to address the nation Monday night after the vote is complete.
Biden won the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes, but the 538-member Electoral College determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections in the indirect form of democracy the U.S. practices.
The most populous states hold the most sway, with each of the 50 states having the same number of electors as the number of senators and representatives it has in Congress. The national capital city of Washington, which does not have voting representation in Congress, has three electors, the same number as the country’s seven smallest states.
The Pacific coastal state of California, which Biden easily won, has the most electors, 55, followed by Texas with 38 electors who will vote for Trump and 29 in New York for Biden.
In the midwestern state of Michigan, Democratic electors are getting police escorts from their cars into the State Capitol, which otherwise has been closed for the day to keep out gun-carrying Trump protesters who are planning to demonstrate against the Biden victory in the political battleground state.
In the southwestern state of Arizona, where Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win since 1996, state officials are holding the vote at an undisclosed location for safety reasons, away from what is expected to be a contentious hearing on election integrity that Republicans are conducting in the statehouse.
In Delaware, Biden’s small eastern home state, the electoral vote ceremony was moved to a college gymnasium, a site considered to have more security.
After the Electoral College vote is completed, one last step remains in the American presidential election tableau.
On January 6, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives will meet in a joint session of Congress to officially count Monday’s Electoral College vote.
Trump allies in the House, led by Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama, say they will contest the outcome in five states — Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Wisconsin — where they contend widespread voting fraud cost Trump re-election. But election officials in all five states, including key Republicans in Georgia and Arizona, certified the Biden victory and said there was no decisive vote or vote-counting fraud that affected the outcome.
But before a congressional debate could occur on the Republican House members’ protest, a senator would have to join in contesting the outcome, but so far, none has said he or she would.
If the protests are dismissed, Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the process, would end up declaring that he and Trump had lost their re-election bid.
Then, two weeks later, at noon January 20, Biden would be sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as the 46th U.S. president. At 78, he will be the oldest American leader ever.