The election results show that Democrat Joe Biden won 306 of the 538 electoral votes available, surpassing the 270 needed. Republican President Donald Trump won 232. The Electoral College must confirm this result
Delegates gather in state capitols across the country Monday to formally vote for Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, ending President Donald Trump’s frenzied but failed attempt to turn around his defeat in the November 3 elections.
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State-by-state voting, traditionally a formalism, has taken on extraordinary importance this year because of Trump’s unprecedented assault on the nation’s democratic process. With false accusations of widespread fraud, Trump has pressured state officials to throw out the election results and declare him the winner.
In the United States, a candidate becomes president not by winning a majority of the national popular vote, but through a collegiate system that allocates electoral votes to all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their population. (Here’s a graphic of how the Electoral College works: tmsnrt.rs/3lUKcgv )
The election results show that Biden, the former Democratic vice president, won 306 of the 538 electoral votes available, surpassing the 270 needed. Republican President Trump won 232.
In capitols like Lansing (Michigan), Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), and Atlanta (Georgia), delegates – generally loyal to the party – will meet to formally cast those votes.
Although there are sometimes a handful of “dishonest” delegates who vote for someone who has won the popular vote, the vast majority approve of the popular results for their state, and the authorities expect nothing different on Monday.
Trump has asked Republican state lawmakers to appoint their own delegates and ignore the will of the voters. State deputies have largely rejected this idea.
The votes cast on Monday will go to Congress to be officially counted on January 6, when the complex US electoral process will culminate.
Trump said late last month that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for Biden, but has since forged ahead with an unprecedented campaign to overturn his defeat, unsuccessfully filing numerous lawsuits challenging the state’s vote count. On Friday, the United States Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Texas that sought to invalidate the results in four states in which Biden won.
Once the Electoral College vote is complete, Trump’s only tactic left is to convince Congress not to certify the count on January 6. Federal law allows individual legislators to challenge state electoral votes, leading both the House of Representatives and the Senate to debate objections before voting on their support.
Mo Brooks, a conservative Republican congressman, has promised to file challenges when Congress reviews the vote next month, although both houses will almost certainly reject the initiative. Democrats control the House, while several moderate Republicans in the Senate have already publicly accepted Biden’s victory.
In 2016, Trump won the Electoral College vote despite losing the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. The formal vote got extra attention when some Democratic activists asked the delegates to “be dishonest” with Trump. In the end, seven voters broke ranks, an unusually high number but too small to influence the outcome.