The first Monday after the second Wednesday of December during a presidential election year is coming up, so you know what that means: it’s time for the Electoral College to vote. Didn’t know that? Well, you’re not alone. Normally, once the loser of the presidential election concedes, the electoral college vote isn’t that big of a deal — but because President Trump has yet to concede the November election to Joe Biden, things are different this time around. Yahoo News explains.
– So when does the first Monday after the second Wednesday of the month mean anything? Only when it means a peaceful transfer of power and the continuance of this experiment we know as the United States of America. That’s because in a presidential election year, the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December is when the Electoral College votes. In most years, this event barely gets a mention, having been overshadowed more than a month earlier by these sounds.
GEORGE BUSH: I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock.
MITT ROMNEY: –to congratulate him on his victory.
HILLARY CLINTON: –then offered to work with him on behalf of our country.
– But in 2020 we haven’t heard that. Just this.
DONALD TRUMP: This is a fraud on the American public. If you count the legal votes, I easily win. Well, we’re going to have to see who the next administration is because we won.
– Because President Trump has yet to concede, things are different this time around. So here’s how the Electoral College actually works. On November 3, former Vice President Joe Biden received 81 million votes to President Trump’s 74 million. Winner winner, chicken dinner, right? Well, no. The president isn’t elected by popular vote totals– hello, Hillary– but by the 50 states’ electors who cast their votes for president in the Electoral College.
There are 538 electors in total. States get one for each of their representatives in the House– that’s the first 435– plus one for each of their senators, another 100. And the last three come from the District of Columbia. All but two states have a winner-take-all system. So even a small lead in a swing state can make a huge difference in who wins. That’s why on election night, and sometimes in the days that follow, we have a map showing who won each state, and a winner is projected once they cross that 270 electoral vote threshold for a majority.
This usually happens before all the votes are fully counted. And states have a safe harbor deadline to certify the results and select electors who reflect the popular vote. That deadline passed on December 8 this year. About a week later, the electors meet in their respective state houses, and then they actually vote for the next president. Then, once a new Congress is sworn in in January, they meet in a joint session to open and count the electoral votes. And then the election is well and truly over.
Normally, this stuff all just sort of happens. There isn’t the kind of effort we’re seeing from some members of the GOP and the sitting president to invalidate large swaths of the popular vote or attempt to get Republican state legislatures to disregard the certified results and select electors who will vote for, well, him.
DONALD TRUMP: If I lost, I’d be a very gracious loser.
– None of this has been successful so far. And there’s no reason to think the results will change. But until it’s over, we’ve got to keep paying attention.