Today the Electoral College formally met to officially select the next President of the United States, and their selection mirrored the popular vote results in each of the 50 states and D.C. In yet another anticlimactic moment in this otherwise high-stakes and high-drama election year, President-elect Joe Biden again clinched victory in Nevada and nationwide.
Here’s how it all went down.
2:45 PM UPDATE: Biden officially crosses the 270 Electoral Votes threshold thanks to our next-door neighbors in California.
* ELECTORAL COLLEGE AFFIRMS BIDEN'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION VICTORY AS CALIFORNIA PUSHES HIM PAST 270 ELECTORAL VOTES@Reuters
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) December 14, 2020
Even though we generally anticipated this, it’s still nice to see some real-life confirmation. Congratulations, California. Now, you get to know what it feels like to “matter”.
Trump and friends “released the kraken”. They still lost the election.
Ever since we and most other media outlets officially projected Joe Biden as the winner of Nevada and the overall presidential election on November 7, outgoing President Donald Trump and his allies have subjected multiple state and federal courts to a “kraken” full of frivolous lawsuits. These “kraken” lawsuits are simply beyond the realm of the legal and the factual. For goodness sake, these pro-Trump lawyers didn’t even proofread these “kraken” suits!
In Georgia, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Arizona, and right here in Nevada, these “kraken” suits have polluted state and federal courts with false allegations of “voter fraud” that are “enhanced” with fever dreams involving a resurrected Hugo Chavez (spoiler alert: he’s still dead), the completely fictional states of “New Nevada and New California”, and farcical “evidence” lifted directly from online QAnon forums (yes, really).
Thankfully for both Biden and the overall nation, state and federal courts overwhelmingly rejected these “kraken” suits. Even when the ultimate “kraken” suit reached the U.S. Supreme Court – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) attempt to make the Court reject hundreds of thousands of legally cast ballots in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – the Court ruled 7-2 to tell Paxton that his office has no right to interfere “in the manner in which another state conducts its elections”. And even the two SCOTUS holdouts who voted to allow the case to proceed, Republican-appointed Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, indicated they would not have voted to grant Paxton a full erasure of the Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin election results either.
Who wants to take this crash course at the Electoral College?
Here’s where we reach the ultimate anti-climax: The National Archives and the official certificate of ascertainment signed by Governor Steve Sisolak (D) and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) already gave away the game. Hell, we already knew in those first critical days after the election, when Joe Biden began to pull ahead in all the above mentioned swing states. And because Nevada has a state law forbidding “faithless electors” from changing the outcome- it even has a provision that has alternates repeal and replace any “faithless electors” who attempt to override the will of the voters – this outcome truly was set in stone once Sisolak and Cegavske signed that certificate of ascertainment.
Sisolak and Cegavske already designated the Nevada State Democratic Party’s slate of party leaders as the state’s six official presidential electors, as Democratic nominee Joe Biden earned 33,596 more votes than Republican nominee Donald Trump. These six electors met virtually today and officially delivered Nevada’s six electoral votes for Biden, just as 703,486 Nevadans had already requested before 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time on November 3, 2020.
A similar process is playing out across the nation, other than most other states (and D.C.) choosing to hold in-person Electoral College ceremonies despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. While Stephen Miller and other Trump apparatchiks are promoting an “alternate slate of electors in the ‘contested states’”, including here in Nevada, the real electors are meeting and casting real votes that correspond to the real ballots that 158,395,371 real American voters cast on or before November 3 in each of the 50 states and D.C.
Yes, the Electoral College is going as it should be this time. That doesn’t mean the larger threat to American democracy doesn’t matter any more.
Steve Scalise, who supported Trump's effort to disenfranchise millions of Biden voters for no good reason, won't commit to recognizing Joe Biden as President-elect even after the Electoral College votes pic.twitter.com/rlrIqw8OcS
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 13, 2020
It would be nice to just take into account the actual election results, court rulings, and Electoral College outcome and feel sanguine about this nation’s future. But since you’re reading us here instead, we must recognize where Donald Trump has succeeded thus far with his coup attempt.
According to Fox News’ latest national poll, 36% of registered voters believe Trump’s lie that the election was “stolen” from him, and 36% believe Trump’s efforts to undermine American democracy somehow “strengthen democracy”. This is only the latest in a series of recent polls showing 35%-40% of American voters refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of this election. And of course, among Trump’s base this refusal is so intensely concentrated that his campaign has taken in a record fundraising haul since November 3.
A coup is *against* the law — not just illegal, but against the belief that established legal documents and legal precedent hold value over their own attempted power grab. When a coup is successful, they rewrite the law so that they are no longer breaking it.
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) December 14, 2020
Since this is working out almost as well for Trump as it would have had Trump’s coup d’etat been more ruthless and less feckless, we’re still not out of the woods just yet. Now that we have a precedent of bad actors being rewarded for attempting to subvert democracy, this threat to American democracy won’t just magically vanish because Trump’s coup attempt has been so comically stupid. It’s only funny now because it hasn’t worked thus far, but what’s to prevent a more polished authoritarian figure from fixing Trump’s mistakes and turning the comically stupid into something that’s more deadly serious?
Even though the Electoral College thus far is aligning with voters’ preferences and the states’ official certificates of ascertainment, keep in mind that this is the kind of “procedural business” that we used to take for granted. If Trump’s presidency has taught us anything, it’s that we can no longer just take for granted any kind of “procedural business”, “democratic norms”, or even adherence to allegedly “safe and secure” constitutional law. While we can breathe some sighs of relief over the Electoral College working out this smoothly today, we commit to rebuilding our democracy going forward in order to prevent the next coup attempt from becoming a coup that succeeds.