With record voting turnout since the 1990 election, the 2020 United States presidential election was the 59th quadrennial presidential election held on November 3, 2020. The Democratic candidate and also the former vice president Joe Biden and U.S. senator from California, Kamala Harris defeated the Republican candidate president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence.
Donald Trump did enrich the headlines during his period at the White House but even before leaving it, he didn’t fail to make one. This election was also the first since 1992 in which an incumbent president failed to win re-election to a second term with Biden receiving record-breaking 76 million votes+ ever cast for a candidate in a U.S. presidential election.
The winner is determined through a system known as the Electoral College. Total 50 states and Washington DC together, are given several Electoral College votes, which adds up to a total of 538 votes. High populous states get more Electoral College votes than their less populated counterparts.
The Voters choose a joint ticket for president and vice president who will determine the presidential electors of the Electoral College, and thus, in turn, will vote for the candidates on the 14th December 2020.
A candidate on either side needs to win 50% plus one i.e. 270 electoral college votes to win the election.
The candidate who gets the maximum votes wins all of the state’s Electoral College votes except two-Maine and Nebraska.
Thus a candidate can win the election without getting the maximum votes at the national level. This did happen at the last election, in which Donald Trump won a majority of Electoral College votes although Hillary Clinton was the one to sweep in votes across the US.
After the election day in the US, all eyes were on four states- Nevada, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania- because these were the states where the poll workers were still counting the votes of the elections. But these states are way critical because the Republican Lawyers have filed lawsuits here. Everywhere in the US, the votes have come in form of Electoral Ballot and Postal Mail. The Democrats in this election were more likely to vote-in through the mail than the Republicans. In Penn, Trump filed a case in the Supreme Court to oppose the counting of a portion of votes. This was against the rule passed by the highest court of the state which stated that any ballot postmarked on election day and received up to 3 days after (till 6th November 2020), are to be counted. This rule was passed keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic and such related delays in mail posts. So it’s not hidden that Trump has refused to concede the race, and the vast majority of Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have yet to acknowledge the Democrats’ win. Trump said and I quote “will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated”.
In his support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump’s pursuit of court cases is 100 per cent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities.
It’s quite clear that the State legislature can impact voting rights. The majority of Republican-led state legislature might create elections laws in favour of the republicans for future. These laws include the Voter Id Laws, Poll Closures etc.
A very important aspect to mark is the role of the Supreme Court. The US 2000 Elections looms large over the role of Supreme Court to intervene. In that year, the minute difference in votes of candidates made the Supreme Court recount votes from Florida and hence it had become deciding the state of the election results. Thus George W Bush won the presidency over Al Gore with only 537 more votes than the latter.
Is recounting or overturn of the results possible this year? It is not much likely because the stake of votes which the Republicans are fighting lawsuits for; is a very small percentage of votes to overturn the result. So hopes are on the inauguration day on January 20 2021, when Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Also, Kamala Harris, the first woman vice president-elect, will be sworn in that day from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
To know more about the impact of the US Presidency 2020 on India, tune into the podcast here.