Today, the Electoral College will officially choose the next president and vice president of the United States.
This is normally a part of the election process we gloss over, but it has more interest this year thanks to the ongoing tantrum by the current president, and his millions of supporters who have fallen in line behind him. I’m guessing, there might be a moment of intrigue somewhere in the nation, but essentially, this is a done deal. Nevertheless, there are reasons to pay attention.
What is happening today
Although the Electoral College sounds like one body, really what we have are 51 sets of electors (each state plus DC), who will meet in their own states to cast their votes. Normally, they meet in the state legislature. The political parties in each state chose their electors earlier in the year. Most are party officials whose names never end up in the news but some are well known, like Stacey Abrams who is an elector for Georgia.
In the states where Joe Biden won the popular vote, they will send their Democratic electors to the state capitol today. In the states where Trump won the popular vote, they will send the Republican electors. You can see who your electors are by clicking on your state at THIS LINK at the National Archives.
Once all the votes are cast, they are counted and then 6 certificates are signed by the governor detailing the votes. They go to various people (like your state’s secretary of state, the National Archives, etc.), but the most important one is sent to the president of the Senate, which is Vice President Mike Pence. He will use those certificates to count the votes in front of a joint session of Congress on January 6th.
A word about faithless electors
You may recall that in 2016, we had a handful of “faithless electors” — these are electors who didn’t cast their vote for their party’s candidate. This kicked off several lawsuits that culminated at the Supreme Court. In July of this year, SCOTUS reaffirmed that states have the right to pass laws that govern how electors vote, i.e. they can punish electors that don’t follow the law.
At this point in time, 32 states plus DC have laws governing how electors need to behave. You can see if your state is one of them HERE (scroll to the bottom of the page to see that list.) Which leaves 18 that don’t have a law — but even without a law, state parties can punish electors for not voting the way they should.
I’m far more concerned about rabid Trump supporters trying to shut down the voting processes, like what was reported last night in Michigan.
What you can do today
I encourage you to check your state’s main newspaper or TV news channels to get real-time information about what is happening in your state. I expect that some states will see protestors and clearly, we need to keep an eye out for Republican shenanigans. If you see anything, get loud on social media to spread the word. Or, as soon as your state locks in their electoral votes, let everyone know. No one is tired of winning yet!
Looking forward to locking in the most recent “win” for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris today!
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