The only thing standing in the way of Donald Trump becoming US president now could be Joe Biden

Image: AP/Jessica Hill
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The United States’ 538 Electoral College members voted mostly as expected on Dec. 19, paving the way for Donald J. Trump to be the country’s next president with 304 votes, despite widespread bipartisan concerns about whether he is unfit for the office because of his temperament and myriad business conflicts.

In all, only two Republican electors, both from Texas, failed to cast their votes for Trump, while five of the electors pledged to Hillary Clinton ended up voting for someone else. Some Republican electors were bombarded with thousands of emails from US citizens asking them to vote for anyone but Trump (one elector in Kansas said she received 500 emails an hour), and anti-Trump protestors gathered in several state capitals where the votes were being cast.

The results of the vote will now go to the US Senate, which meets Jan. 6 to officially tally them, with vice president Joe Biden supervising as president of the Senate. After the results are officially counted, as US law states, the Senate president declares the winner and next president of the US. But he must also ask for objections during the same session:

[The results] shall be delivered to the President of the Senate, who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States, and, together with a list of the votes, be entered on the Journals of the two Houses. Upon such reading of any such certificate or paper, the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any. Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received.

The process has historically been ceremonial, and the code goes on to imply that objections from the Senate president would relate to “to any vote or paper from a State” rather than overall objections about the suitability of the of the president-elect for the office. So, no, Biden is not likely to intervene in a last-minute Hail Mary pass to keep Trump from office. Instead, he is almost certainly the person who will officially declare Trump the next US president.

In a statement after the Dec. 19 electoral college vote, Trump falsely claimed that it was a “historical electoral landslide victory.” His electoral college vote tally means his win ranks 46th out of 58 total US elections, and he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.