Members of the Electoral College are meeting to cast their ballots on Monday, in the latest official step certifying Joe Biden's victory

By Virginia Chamlee
December 14, 2020 01:42 PM
Advertisement
Hillary Clinton (left) and Stacey Abrams
| Credit: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; Stefanie Keenan/Getty

The Electoral College is almost certain on Monday to formally cast enough votes for Democrat Joe Biden — again certifying his presidential election victory — in gatherings held throughout the day in state capitols throughout the country.

Electors from 50 states and the District of Columbia — including some notable names and past presidential contenders, like Hillary Clinton — will ratify their respective states' votes in the Nov. 3 election.

Based on the popular vote results, 306 electors will chose Biden over President Donald Trump in what had long been a little-watched formality until this year, with Trump refusing to admit defeat and insisting, somehow, he might still overturn the election. (The courts have resoundingly rejected this.)

The constitutional ritual of the Electoral College gathering comes after all states have officially certified their results. A formal counting of the electoral votes will be held Jan. 6, in a joint session of Congress, at which some Republicans are expected to raise further if ultimately fruitless objections.

Many of the country's 538 electors are otherwise ordinary Americans, though there are a handful of notable names in the mix.

How Electors Are Chosen

The number of electors in each state is roughly in line with the size of its population (Rhode Island, for instance, has four electoral votes, while Texas has 38).

Each state has its own rules for selecting electors but it's most commonly done via convention (with each political party nominating and voting on electors at state party gatherings).

While the Constitution states that electors cannot be those who currently hold federal office, they can be retired politicians, state or local officials or relatives of candidates. Many are simply party loyalists who have some sort of tie to local or state government.

Though there are electors for each party, only those from the winning party of each state participate in Monday's Electoral College vote. For example, since Trump won Florida in the presidential election, only the Republican electors in that state will represent it in the Electoral College.

In most states, laws require that electors vote for the popular-vote winner and most have pledged to do so, though there have been notable exceptions. In 2016, there were seven so-called "faithless electors" who cast their votes for someone other than their state's popular-vote getter, though this did not ultimately change the result.

A candidate must collect at least 270 electoral votes to be elected president.

Notable 2020 Electors

Bill Clinton

The 42nd president joins a who's-who of former national and current state politicos (including his wife) to be a New York elector. The list also includes the state's governor as well as a number of state and city comptrollers, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia A. James.

Hillary Clinton

A former secretary of state and first lady, Clinton will cast her vote for Biden as a New York elector. She ran for president in 2016 — the first woman nominee of a major political party — but lost to Trump.

Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Cuomo is among the delegates who will cast their votes at Albany's capitol in-person (a state election law requirement), telling reporters “I don’t know a legal way around it." All 30 of the state's electors will be given COVID-19 tests before entering the state Assembly chamber, according to Syracuse.com.

Stacey Abrams

A former member of Georgia House of Representatives, Abrams gained national attention after running as the Democratic Party's nominee in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, coming closer than any Democrat had in decades to winning. She went on to lead efforts to increase registration in Georgia, a state that ultimately voted for Biden this year (which many say is thanks, in part, to Abrams' work).

In November, after her state's votes were officially tallied, Abrams wrote on Twitter that she would be "proud" to cast her vote for Biden as an elector in Georgia: "Georgians decided, and as an elector, I will be proud to join 15 fellow Georgia Democrats in casting my vote for ⁦@JoeBiden⁩, winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes and President-Elect of the United States."

Maximo Alvarez

A Miami resident and Cuban immigrant, Alvarez is among Florida' slate of electors. He made headlines after delivering an impassioned speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, in which he compared Biden to communists such as Fidel Castro.

Others

Frank Biden, Biden's brother — who like other relatives of politicians has faced criticism from those who say he used his family name for financial gain — is among those listed as an elector for the Democratic Party in Florida, where he lives.

As Trump won Florida, Frank is not among those who will ultimately represent the state in its electoral voting.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was on the original slate of electors for her state as well, though she was reportedly replaced by the state's Republican Party chairman, Dan Lederman, at the last minute.

Rep. Darrell Issa is listed among the Republican Party of California's electors. Issa was among those to back Texas' failed bid to overturn its election results, which was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court. Biden won the popular vote in California by 63.5 percent, according to The Associated Press.

The constitutional ritual of the Electoral College is of particular importance in 2020, as outgoing President Trump has made numerous efforts to overturn the results of the election.

Trump has not, however, offered any proof of his claims of a "rigged" or "stolen" election.

Following the Electoral College vote Monday, Biden will give a speech from Delaware about the "strength and resilience of our democracy," according to his team.

He will take office on Jan. 20.