President-elect Biden clears 270 electoral college votes needed to affirm victory

Joe Biden
Posted at 7:59 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 20:23:22-05

The Electoral College convened Monday in every state and formally confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election, a Constitutionally-mandated process that takes place following each election.

Around 5:30 p.m. ET, President-elect Joe Biden received enough votes to affirm his presidential election win. California's 55 electoral votes put him over the 270-vote threshold with 302 votes Monday afternoon after a day of voting in each state.


Electors met at a place and time determined by their state and cast their votes. Voting took place throughout the country at various times Monday.

Vermont was the first state to cast electoral votes when it submitted its three votes for Biden. Tennessee followed shortly after submitting its 11 votes for Trump.

As of 5:30 p.m. ET, 534 out of the 538 Electoral Votes had been cast. Biden is expected to get 306 votes to Trump's 232 based on the results of the presidential election.

Hawaii was the last state to cast their Electoral College votes, at 7 p.m. ET. Its 4 votes were expected to go to Biden. The Electoral College votes are formally counted during a joint session of Congress on January 6.

Typically, the Electoral College vote is little more than a rubber stamp approval of the November election. However, the post-electoral government machinery has received more attention than in elections past due to President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

For instance, Trump had been personally pressuring Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to appoint a special session of the state legislator in the hopes of appointing new Electoral College voters — and threatening not to campaign for two Republican Senators that are up for re-election in January. Those two elections will determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.

However, now that the Electoral College votes are cast and affirm Biden's victory, Trump has little recourse to continue to litigate the election results.

The Constitution mandates that the Electoral College select the president of the United States every four years. The number of electors each state has depends on that state's population and is equal to the number of congressional seats and Senators that represent the state.

Political parties in each state pre-determine who the electors before the election, and the party that receives the most votes then has its pre-determined set of electors participate in the Electoral College votes.

Two states, Nebraska and Maine, are the only two states who do not award all of their Electors to a single candidate. Both of those states award Electors on the basis of the results in Congressional districts.

For the most part, there are no restrictions on who can be appointed to participate in the Electoral College. Most parties appoint longtime politicians and other bigwigs, like former state governors or long-serving members of the state legislature. CNN reports that both Bill and Hillary Clinton would be among New York's Electoral College voters Monday.

Electors can vote for whichever candidate they please or choose to abstain — but in some states, they can be punished for not upholding the will of the voters. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld state laws that punish these so-called "faithless electors."