Election Day could really feel like an period in the past however the presidential saga is not over but. Now it is time for Congress to take centre stage – and there is already political drama aplenty.
Americans forged their ballots on 3 November, setting in movement the electoral proceedings that led to Democrat Joe Biden changing into the US President-elect.
But the presidential cycle is just not achieved and dusted till Congress approves the Electoral College outcomes and Mr Biden takes his oath of workplace on 20 January.
From constitutional deadlines to congressional objections, there’s loads to clarify.
What are electoral votes?
When Americans go to the polls in presidential elections they’re really voting for a bunch of officers who make up the electoral school.
The phrase “college” right here merely refers to a bunch of individuals with a shared process. These individuals are electors and their job is to decide on the president and vice-president, based mostly on the favored vote of their states.
There are 538 electors in complete, divvyed up among the many states. Each elector represents one electoral vote, and a candidate wants to achieve a majority of the votes – 270 or extra – to win the presidency.
In this election, President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump by 306-232. He additionally gained the favored vote by greater than seven million ballots.
The electoral school meets each 4 years, just a few weeks after election day, to forged their electoral votes.
What’s Congress obtained to do with it?
Congress will finalise the outcomes of the 2020 election by certifying the electoral school votes. It’s part of the method enshrined within the Constitution.
All 50 states have licensed the election end result, some after recounts and authorized appeals.
On 14 December, members of the electoral school despatched off their votes in sealed certificates to Congress from throughout the nation.
On 6 January, these certificates will enter the Capitol in mahogany poll bins.
Members of each the House of Representatives and Senate from each events will learn the votes out in alphabetical state order and tally them up.
Vice-president Mike Pence, who’s the president of the Senate, will preside and finally declare the winner.
His function as president of the Senate is to “open all the certificates” within the presence of the House of Representatives and the Senate, based on the US Constitution.
OK, so as soon as he does that, Biden is winner and all of us go dwelling?
Not this 12 months. Keep studying.
Will outcomes be contested at this level?
Taking their cue from the outgoing president, a number of lawmakers have stated they are going to increase objections.
This is in opposition to the recommendation of Senate chief Mitch McConnell.
An objection might be heard provided that a member of the House and Senate each submit it. Then, the 2 chambers are allotted two hours per objection to debate the matter earlier than voting on whether or not to uphold it or not.
For a state’s electoral votes to be tossed out, majorities in each the House and Senate should vote to take action. With the House in Democratic management and the Senate with Republicans, this might be all however unattainable to drag off.
While there’s actually precedent for post-election pushback, and objections have been recorded earlier than (most just lately in 2005), no debate has ever resulted in electoral votes being thrown out.
Why are some Republicans doing this?
It’s not precisely Donald Trump’s final stand – he could by no means cease questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election – however the congressional counting of Electoral College votes is the final main procedural hurdle between Joe Biden and his inauguration.
It is a hurdle Biden, with assist of Democrats and a few Republicans, is certain to clear.
It can also be the final likelihood for the president’s supporters in Congress to reveal fealty to their man whereas he nonetheless holds workplace.
As such, the day’s (and evening’s, and maybe subsequent morning’s) occasions might make clear the breadth of assist the president nonetheless enjoys.
Already, there are indicators that his backing is probably not as robust as even current predictions instructed.
If Republicans fall wanting 100 votes within the House and the Senate cannot muster far more than the dozen senators who’ve already introduced their intention to object, it might point out a celebration sharply divided over its future. Does it contain unquestioning loyalty to Trump or one the place his energy is receding?
No matter the end result, that such a outstanding, unprecedented try and reject the outcomes of a democratic election might develop into a political litmus take a look at won’t simply be forgotten by many.
What are the Republican objections?
Eleven Republican senators, led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, desire a 10-day delay to audit unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.
In a press release, they stated November’s election had “featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities”.
There isn’t any proof of widespread voter fraud and quite a few authorized challenges have been tossed out within the courts. An investigation by the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) discovered no proof to again any claims of fraud.
The lawmakers stated they didn’t wish to “thwart the democratic process” however show that the election was “lawfully conducted”.
Separately, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has additionally introduced he’ll object when Congress counts the votes.
In the House, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks heads the group of dozens of Trump loyalists disputing Mr Biden’s win in sure states.
The representatives are objecting to ends in the six key swing states gained by Mr Biden the place the president has challenged the outcomes (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nevada). They argue that these states could not have adopted election legal guidelines correctly.
The vote row has additionally prompted questions over Vice-President Mike Pence’s function because the one presiding over the joint assembly of Congress.
Mr Pence has stated he “welcomes” the lawmakers’ objections. But by US election regulation, Mr Pence’s obligation is solely administrative – and it’s extremely unlikely he’ll attempt to overstep.