Electors Meet to Formally Choose Next President of the United States

Terje Anderson, left, one of the three members of Vermont's Electoral College, casts his vote at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt., on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
AP Photo/Wilson Ring

Electors from each state will meet on Monday to cast their votes for the next President of the United States as part of the process enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Law requires electors — which are typically selected earlier in the year and often comprised of party dignitaries — to meet on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December to formally cast their votes for the next President of the United States. That Monday fell on December 14 this election cycle.

The 538 electors will gather in their designated places, typically set by state law, to cast their ballots by hand, voting for both a president and vice president. The candidate who reaches 270 wins the election.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 reads:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Although it can vary, electors often meet in a federal building, such as the state capitol or governor’s office. Times of the meetings vary from state to state but will span between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

The U.S. Constitution does not require electors to vote based on the results of their states, and there have been dozens of instances of “faithless electors” throughout American history, although none have altered the final outcome of a presidential election.

Upon meeting, electors will cast their votes and sign six copies of a Certificate of the Vote, which will be delivered to six different places: two go to the state’s secretary of state, two go to the National Archives and Records Administration, one goes to the president of the U.S. Senate, and the other goes to the presiding judge “in the district where the electors meet,” per CNN.

Congress will count the Certificate of the Vote on January 6.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 reads:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

After Congress counts the votes on January 6, the January 20 inauguration follows, officially swearing in the next President of the United States.

Last week, dozens of conservative leaders called on state legislators to “exercise their plenary power under the Constitution and appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump” given the skepticism and legal challenges surrounding the results in several key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia.

Republican lawmakers may continue to challenge the process and “raise objections during the counting of the votes January 6,” according to CNN:

If a member from the House and Senate both raise an objection, the two houses of Congress adjourn to their chambers to consider it. In 2016, Democrats in the House raised objections, but didn’t have a second from a senator. That seems more likely this year. Both houses would have to sustain the objection, which won’t happen with Democrats in charge of the House. So, the end result is still assured, but so is the forecast for drama.

On Sunday, President Trump said swing states that found “massive” voter fraud “cannot legally certify these votes as complete & correct without committing a severely punishable crime.”

“Everybody knows that dead people, below age people, illegal immigrants, fake signatures, prisoners, and many others voted illegally,” Trump said, citing machine “glitches,” as well as “ballot harvesting, non-resident voters, fake ballots, ‘stuffing the ballot box,’ votes for pay, roughed up Republican Poll Watchers, and sometimes even more votes than people voting.”

“In all Swing State cases, there are far more votes than are necessary to win the State, and the Election itself. Therefore, VOTES CANNOT BE CERTIFIED. THIS ELECTION IS UNDER PROTEST!” He declared:

Joe Biden, whom the media has declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, will formally become “president-elect” if the electors vote in line with their state’s results, as is widely expected.

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