On Monday, the nation’s Electoral College officially stamped Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect.
A total of 538 electors from every state and the District took part in the critical portion of the U.S. electoral process, voting to affirm the votes cast during the 2020 election.
Locally and in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote, women served as the three electors from the District — each casting their vote Monday afternoon for Biden and Harris.
“I represent those who have been undervalued and underrepresented,” said Meedie Bardonille, a District elector who serves as a registered nurse and the chair of the District of Columbia Board of Nursing.
A Howard University graduate, Bardonille said she cast her vote with a greater sense of pride with Harris also counting as a Bison.
“It is validation that we cracked not just the glass ceiling but the concrete walls built to keep us out, and have finally taken our place at the political table,” Bardonille said.
How the Process Works
To win the White House, a candidate needs 270 Electoral College votes.
Biden earned 306 while outgoing President Donald Trump tallied 232.
Though largely viewed as a formality, the many challenges and the outrageous behavior displayed by Trump, his supporters and a large swath of Republican officials made this year’s Electoral College gathering more eventful, if not uncertain.
In Michigan, where Biden won 50.6 percent to 47.8 percent, state legislative offices closed due to safety concerns while members of the Electoral College cast their official votes.
State authorities there said they closed the offices because of “credible threats of violence.”
In Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported that state and local officials of both major political parties warned that Trump’s “increasingly desperate tweets about election fraud and the coronavirus are fueling the potential for violence as well as another ominous trend of 2020, in which public servants and others who disagree are targeted at their offices and homes with armed protests, harassing phone calls and stalkers.”
The newspaper added that an “enemies” list of state and federal officials who rejected Trump’s baseless election conspiracy theories floated up from the dark corners of the web with home addresses listed and red targets over their photos — the latest in a string of threats to public officials.
During a violent outbreak involving the Pro-Trump group Proud Boys, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones told Trump supporters in the District that Biden “will be removed one way or another.”
On Monday, as the Electoral College cast its formal vote for Biden, the Daily Beast reported that Trump’s small circle of devoted legal advocates were still determined to carry on their fight to overturn the 2020 election despite the string of resounding defeats in court, including a seemingly terminal rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court.
“But the futility of the effort is apparent in the campaign’s northern Virginia headquarters — the office that is supposed to be devoted to supporting and housing the legal crusade — which, knowledgeable sources said has virtually emptied out,” the newspaper reported, adding that many of the Trump-Pence signs had been stripped from the walls of the headquarters in Arlington.
“The desks and memorabilia have been largely packed, thrown out, or removed from the office space too. Television sets, mounted to the walls around the rented 14th floor of the building, are being sold off for extra cash,” a source told the newspaper.
Maryland Makes History
In Maryland, eight of the state’s electors come from each Congressional district and two at-large seats who represent the state’s two senators.
Because nearly two million Maryland residents voted for Biden and Harris, the presidential electors chosen by the Democratic Party cast their ballots Monday. It marked the most presidential votes chosen in the state’s history.
The electors, chosen by party officials in the state, included two from Prince George’s County.
“On behalf of my daughter, for a vice president who looks like her, I, Kent Roberson cast my vote for Kamala D. Harris,” Kent Roberson, who serves on the county’s Democratic Central Committee, said when he announced his vote for Harris as vice president.
Gloria Lawlah, a former state secretary of aging and former state senator from Prince George’s County, served as this year’s president of the electors, presiding over the state’s 59th Electoral College meeting that began in 1789.
According to the state’s election history, Maryland joins only six states to participate in every Electoral College vote.
“Our vote today is an important step in the process of building our nation back better,” Lawlah said. “It is a repudiation of hate. A repudiation of divisiveness. It’s an affirmation of unity. We are ensuring a better nation for our children, for our grandchildren and a better nation for generations to come.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a Certificate of Ascertainment which certifies that the state chose Biden and Harris.
In Consideration of the Loopholes
Still, Electoral College members can depart from the will of the people — so-called “faithless electors.” However, states have imposed severe penalties, from large fines to jail time. Thus, there have never been enough faithless electors to overturn an election.
Following Monday’s Electoral College gatherings, votes must arrive in the District by Dec. 23, fulfilling the nine-day deadline in which certified electoral ballots must be delivered to Capitol Hill.
On Jan. 6, three days after the 117th Congress is sworn in, members of the House and Senate are scheduled to meet in the House chamber where the president of the Senate — Vice President Mike Pence — will preside over the reading and counting of the Electoral College votes.
Pence will then announce the vote and ask for any objections.
The House and Senate consider all objections separately and then decide how to count those votes.
The 538 electoral votes are divided — one for each Congress and senator member and three for Washington, D.C., accounting for 270.
The 435 members of the House decide the election with each state receiving a vote.
There are more Democrats in the House but Republicans control more state delegations, so it remains possible that the House could seek to select Trump.
The formal inauguration for Biden and Harris will take place Jan. 20.
“The peaceful transition of power…is a hallmark of our democracy that has been handed down for more than 220 years,” Hogan said. “At times it has been tested, sometimes even questioned. But it is a reminder that despite our differences, we are united as Americans who honor the will of the people through the greatest and most enduring Democratic process that the world has ever known.”
WI staff writer William J. Ford contributed to this story.