WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — If you’re having a hard time following the ins and outs of the Electoral College, consider this: Even the date of the meeting when the electors are to affirm the results of the election is so mystifying you need to take notes.
By law, that meeting falls on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. In other words, this coming Monday.
Keep in mind that when we voted last month, we weren’t really voting for Donald Trump or Joe Biden. We were voting for a slate of electors in our states who then actually cast ballots for the presidential candidates — and only the presidential candidates.
In practice, they vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote.
That vote takes place on Monday in sites selected by individual state legislatures. The electors are picked by political parties and their number is determined by Congressional representation. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is one of 29 New York state electors.
“I’m really looking forward to doing it this year,” Sheehan said. “It’s really an honor and a privilege to be part of this process. It’s a process that I know we’re still continuing to talk about and debate in this country as to whether the electoral college has really sort of served out its useful life and that we should be looking at a popular vote. But for now, this is what’s constitutionally required.”
After that vote, the Electoral College result is certified and sent to the National Archives in Washington. Those certificates will then be reviewed by a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, when the results are announced and the winner declared — usually without objection.
Except that 2020 may be a bit different. This year, there may be some Republican objections to the electoral votes in states President Trump is contesting in the courts — so far unsuccessfully.
“If there is an objection to a particular electoral vote or to a slate of electoral votes by, both a member of the House and a member of the Senate, then the joint session immediately dissolves and the chambers go off and meet by themselves, and decide whether they agree with this objection or not,” said Professor Alex Keyssar.
Keyssar, a professor of history at Harvard University, said objections could draw out the process of certification, but changing the outcome would be next to impossible because both the Senate and the House would have to uphold the challenge.
“There is no real suspense because there is no chance that the House with the Democratic majority is going to go along with objections to electoral votes being cast for a Democratic candidate in a state like Michigan or Wisconsin, or Georgia,” he said.
“We don’t know exactly what the details of the theatrics are going to be, but, we know the outcome,” Keyssar said. “The outcome is not in doubt.”
All of which means that having been certified with well over 270 electoral votes, Joe Biden will be declared the winner of the election sometime before he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20.