US president-elect Joe Biden.
US president-elect Joe Biden.

'Unprecedented': Biden turns aggressive

US president-elect Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump has been formalised by the electoral college, effectively blocking any remaining path the President had to overturn the result.

To be clear, that path was essentially nonexistent anyway. Six weeks after the election, Mr Trump's attempts to challenge the outcome through the courts had gone nowhere. So think of this as yet another nail in the proverbial coffin.

Before we go any further, I should probably explain what the electoral college actually is.

As you may have noticed, the United States has a rather convoluted system. Technically, when Americans went to the polls on November 3, they were not voting directly for a presidential candidate. Their votes were actually used to choose a group of electors, whose job was to pick the president on their behalf.

This is why, on election night and beyond, you heard so much talk about "electoral votes", rather than the popular vote.

In presidential elections, the winner of each state earns its haul of electoral votes - i.e. they get to choose the state's electors, who are pledged to vote for them in the electoral college. And it takes 270 electoral votes to win.

After the election, the states take a few weeks to certify their results, and then the electoral college meets to make everything official. That is what happened today. Electors gathered in the capitals of their respective states to cast their ballots.

There were no surprises. Everyone voted as they were expected to, and Mr Biden will end up with 306 electoral votes compared to Mr Trump's 232. All that remains is for those votes to be officially counted by Congress on January 6, and then for Mr Biden to be inaugurated on January 20.

The President still has not conceded, however. Across the swing states whose results he has disputed, the Republican Party today held its own "alternative" electoral college vote counts, with the party's "electors" choosing Mr Trump over Mr Biden in defiance of their states' popular vote totals.

The intention here is for the Republicans to send their own version of the electoral college results to Congress, and get that version adopted as the official result.

The problem is that the Republicans don't actually have valid votes to cast, because they're not actual electors. The real ones - whose votes, you know, count - were appointed based on the legal, certified results in each state.

As if all that weren't complicated enough, this evening Mr Trump announced his Attorney-General, William Barr, was resigning. So there's plenty of news happening.

 

Originally published as 'Unprecedented': Biden turns aggressive


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