Joe Biden has officially won a majority of the Electoral College and will be the next president, an outcome that has been clear for more than a month.
The 538 Electoral College members met in their states Monday to vote for president and vice president, a ceremonial process laid out in the Constitution. The members, who include party activists and stalwarts like the Clintons, have officially given Biden more than 270 electoral votes, the threshold for winning the presidency. In the end, he will win 306 electoral votes to President Donald Trump’s 232. The former vice president won the popular vote by an even more substantial margin of more than 7 million votes.
The Electoral College vote is typically a quiet event that doesn’t exactly make news, coming weeks after the election results are already known. But Trump, who has refused to accept his loss, has spent the weeks since Election Day singularly focused on undermining the results, lobbing a series of failed lawsuits intended to overturn the vote. Republicans in Washington, DC, have largely stuck by him, either explicitly or with their silence, holding off on calling Biden the president-elect and continuing to treat the unproven allegations of mass voter fraud as a legitimate concern.
This past weekend, thousands of Trump supporters gathered in DC and elsewhere to protest the election result in “Stop the Steal” rallies. Some of the rallies resulted in violence, with four people stabbed in DC and another person shot in Olympia, Washington state. Electors in some key states were surrounded by security when they met on Monday, an atypical setup for a normally sleepy event due to persistent threats.
The next step for the election process comes on Jan. 6, when Congress is due to inspect and approve of the Electoral College votes. Even more than Monday’s Electoral College vote, the step in Congress is largely ceremonial. But this year’s election process, with Republicans so far unwilling to stand by the results, is unprecedented, and some Republicans have already reportedly discussed protesting the votes in Congress.
If at least one member in both the House and the Senate objects to the results, the chambers would have to convene a debate about the legitimacy of the ballots. Disputes would be decided by a vote.
So far there appears to be nowhere near enough support in Congress to mount a serious challenge to Biden’s victory. Not a single Republican senator has committed to challenging the results, which would shut the door on any last-minute drama.
“It’s their prerogative. It’s allowed for in the Constitution, but it’s not going anywhere,” Sen. John Thune, the second-highest-ranking Republican in Senate leadership, said Monday of a House challenge. He called such a move “an opportunity for people to vent.”
Trump himself continues to reject the election results, tweeting debunked claims about voter fraud costing him the states he needed to win. But much of his party seems ready to move on. After weeks of walking on eggshells to avoid angering the president, Senate Republicans are starting to come around to publicly acknowledging Biden won.
“I think he’s president-elect, subject to whatever additional litigation is ongoing. I’m not aware of any. Obviously, the Texas case was not successful,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn on Monday, referring to a long shot Republican lawsuit led by the state to overturn the election results of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The Supreme Court declined to hear the suit.
At the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the signs bearing his name are being stripped from the wall while desks are being cleared out, the Daily Beast reported.
Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell announced Monday he will leave the Republican Party and sit as an independent over his disappointment with so many of his colleagues pandering to Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. Mitchell announced his retirement, however, in July 2019, in part because of the “rhetoric and vitriol” in modern politics; he’ll leave Congress at the end of the month.