Do we have a president-elect in 2020?
Some say we do. Some say we don’t. So, what prevails? How about we follow the U.S. Constitution? Ho, what a novel idea.
The Constitution provides us a five-step election process, over a nine-and-one-half-week period, to choose our president.
We do not have a president-elect. Why? The second step is now in process.
Article 2, Section 1, and Amendments 12 and 20 of our U.S. Constitution which guides our presidential elections, tells us we have much more to do.
So, what are the five steps the Constitution proscribes to assure that the presidential election represents the will of all American citizens?
Step one is complete. The popular election for president (electors) took place on Tuesday, Nov. 3, per the individual election laws of the separate states. Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution states, “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be intitled in the Congress.”
The second step is currently taking place, from Nov. 4 to Dec. 14. The 12th Amendment of the Constitution states, “They (the State Electors) shall…name in their ballots the persons…for President…and the number of votes for each…which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit to…the President of the Senate.” The certification process, affirming lawful and disqualifying unlawful votes, conducting recounts if necessary, is currently underway. Legal challenges may be filed by any American citizen with state legislatures, election officers, courts and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court, up to Dec. 8, preceding the meeting of the Electoral College set for Monday, Dec. 14.
The third step. On Dec. 23, the president of the Senate receives the electoral vote certificates, and then on Jan. 6, in joint session of the House and Senate, opens and counts the electoral votes. “There shall be provided an opportunity to challenge any disputed state elector by one Senator and one Congressman together.” The challenge will then be considered and voted on in the Senate and House separately. (US code Presidential elections, Chapter 1, Title 3, Section 5) All challenges being resolved, the person having the majority of electoral votes, being 270 or more, shall be president.
Step four: If the number of certified electors for the top president choice is short of 270 due to disqualification of electors by a state Legislative action or court disqualification, or tie, then, the Electoral College will be dismissed and the presidential election process is passed to the U.S. Congress. The 12th Amendment states, “and if no such person have such majority then…the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representative of each State having one vote.”
Woa, Congress may choose the president? Twice in our history it has.
The Fifth step: The swearing in inauguration: The 20th Amendment to the Constitution states, “The President’s term of office shall end at noon on the 20th day of January…and the term of the successor shall begin.”
The final decision may not be known until Jan. 6, three days after the new Congress is sworn in, and possibly as late as January 20, 2021, inauguration day.
We do not have a president-elect.
Cam Cavasso is a former state Representative and former candidate for U.S. Congress.