The long official process of US polls

Published November 13, 2020, 12:16 PM

by Manila Bulletin

United States President Donald Trump has refused to concede defeat in the 2020 presidential election to Joseph Biden, prolonging the uncertainty that continues to hang over the election results.

President Trump is evidently falling back on the fact that the winner of the election will be officially declared only on January 6, 2021, about two months away, under a lengthy process drawn up by the country’s founding fathers. No other democracy has such a complicated system.

The process of holding a US presidential election starts in October when the Archivist of the US sends a letter to each of the governors of the 50 US states, outlining their responsibilities in the election of each state’s electors who will be members of the national Electoral College to choose the nation’s next president and vice president. The election is held on the first Tuesday in November. The 50 state governors then submit the names of the winners to the US Archivist.

On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December – December 14 this year – each state’s electors meet in the state capitol and formally cast their votes for president and vice president. Each state then sends the voting results by registered mail to the president of the US Senate and the Archivist of the United States.

On January 6, Congress convenes to count the electoral votes and certify the winner of the election. This ends the long official procedure of a presidential election in the US. The elected president and vice president then take their oaths of office on January 20.

Over the years, Americans have found a way to know the results of an election even before the end of this long official process. The American press reports the proceedings in each state and their reports – the Associated Press and local newspapers like the New York Times, the news networks including NBC, CBS, CNN, and Al Jazeera – although unofficial, have come to be accepted by the American people.

But defeated President Trump, true to his nature, refuses to accept defeat. “Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any state,” he said. This is indeed true but in all previous US elections, the unofficial reporting by the country’s respected press has been accepted by the American people even before the official results are announced by Congress on January 6.
Their reports have also been accepted by the world, whose leaders, including our own President Duterte, have sent congratulations to the new US president and vice president.

Some opposition leaders in the US have accepted the recent election results, unofficial though they may be. But they decline to issue any statement in deference to their leader, President Trump. There is now fear that some of Trump’s rabid supporters will take to the streets in a continuing show of support for their defeated leader.

That would be most unfortunate for much of the world, including our own leaders and people of the Philippines, who continue to look up to the US for leadership in many areas, especially in democratic government.