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Electoral College Members Prepare To Finalize Presidential Election


Across the country today, electors will cast official presidential ballots for the Electoral College. It's another step in the election process that will make Joe Biden the next president of the United States. Typically, the Electoral College vote passes without a whole lot of fanfare. But this year, it's taken on greater significance as President Trump has tried to overturn the election results with baseless claims and without success. NPR's Tamara Keith, White House correspondent, is joining us this morning. Hi, Tam.


MARTIN: So you and I are talking about something that's usually very uneventful - right? - the Electoral College vote. But we're talking about it because President Trump has been suggesting electors disavow the will of voters in their respective states where Biden won and cast ballots for him instead. Can you just walk us through how this process actually works today?

KEITH: Yeah. So the electors are chosen by state political parties. There are 538 of them. They will meet in all the states, mostly in state capitals. They are there. They have a job. It is a very simple job. It is to affirm the popular vote tallies in their states. And in most states, those electors are required, by law, to cast their votes in this way. So this will happen. Joe Biden will win. He will get more than the 270 electoral votes to become president. He will officially be president-elect. It will no longer be based on projections and state tallies. It'll be based on the Electoral College. Of course, there is one more step. Congress meets on January 6 in a joint session to count those votes.

MARTIN: President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, set to give an address tonight. What are we expecting to hear from him?

KEITH: Well, he will deliver remarks. His team says that it will happen after the Electoral College vote. And he will discuss, quote, "the strength and resilience of our democracy." That is certainly a nod to President Trump's efforts to try to overturn the results, a nod to the Supreme Court saying they weren't interested in getting involved in that and numerous courts around the country not getting involved, and election officials in states - you know, Republican election officials, Democratic election officials - all certifying that this was a free and fair election held all over the country. Biden's transition held a briefing yesterday. And the campaign manager and future deputy chief of staff, Jen O’Malley Dillon said this will just be the latest instance of Biden winning this election.


JEN O’MALLEY DILLON: The electors will vote in a process determined by their own states throughout the day. And it will clearly reinforce exactly what's been true for weeks and weeks and weeks.

KEITH: What stood out to me about that briefing, though, was that they held another briefing a month - more than a month after the election to talk about all the ways in which Joe Biden had won. And in part, that has to be because President Trump continues to deny the fact that he lost.

MARTIN: So President Trump suffered his biggest legal setback yet on Friday. The Supreme Court, as you referenced, denied taking up the case that was brought by Texas. How's the president responded to that?

KEITH: You know, he says that he is going to continue to fight on. Here's the thing, more than 100 House Republicans signed on with the president on that attempt to overturn the election result. One should say, those House Republicans also won in that election. But, you know, there had been a number of Republicans, particularly in the Senate, who had said, let's just wait for the Electoral College, then we can call Joe Biden president-elect. Let's see if that happens or if the president will move the goalpost and get his party to stay in line.

MARTIN: All right. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Tam, thanks. We appreciate it.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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