Electoral College cements Joe Biden’s presidential victory
Electors, including three from Alaska, cast their votes to the Electoral College on Monday, December 14. The casting of electoral votes, the final step in the election, further solidified Democratic candidate Joseph Biden, Jr.’s victory over incumbent Republican Donald Trump. As predicted, Biden received 306 votes, while Trump received 232. To win the presidency, a candidate must accrue at least 270 votes. Unlike in past elections, this year there were no so-called faithless electors, electors who did not vote for their party’s nominee.
Since Trump won Alaska, the state’s electors were nominated by the Republican party. Delegates were former senator John Binkley, prominent Anchorage Republican Judy Eledge and Randy Ruedrich, former head of the Alaskan Republican party. All three cast their ballots for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in a small ceremony in Juneau.
The electoral vote, while typically not eventful, is something Trump and some Republicans have been working to prevent. Just weeks after Alaska’s results were declared official on November 30, the state joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. general election. The suit claimed that voting irregularities in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin should be investigated by the state legislatures before those states formally certified Biden the winner on Monday.
The joint suit was put forward by attorney generals in about 20 Republican states, despite the fact that all 50 states have certified their elections. Filed by Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, the suit asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 election results by invalidating 62 electoral college votes in four battleground states that incumbent Republican Donald Trump lost. Trump himself joined the lawsuit in his personal capacity on Wednesday.
When asking the Supreme Court to hear the case last week, plaintiffs requested an expedited decision. This at least was granted: The Supreme Court acted quickly, rejecting the suit on Friday. The Court refused to hear the case on the grounds that Texas does not have the standing to interject itself into the elections of other states. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the decision reads.
The loss for Trump came despite the conservative majority in the Court, with three of the nine judges selected by Trump. This includes Amy Coney Barrett, whose nomination in October was expedited with hopes that she would rule favorably for Trump in election cases. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas issued a separate statement—not a dissent—disagreeing over a technical point. Alito wrote that the Court lacks the discretion to deny the filing of a case, but did not state an opinion on the substance of the case.
Despite numerous lawsuits and allegations brought by the Trump team, there has not been any substantiated evidence of election fraud. So far, none of the evidence has held up in court and over 35 lawsuits have been rejected. Last week, the Supreme Court dismissed another case challenging the election outcome in Pennsylvania in a single sentence ruling. The dismissal of two cases by the country’s highest court means it is unlikely that any cases will ultimately prevail.
Alaska did not initially join the lawsuit, although Governor Mike Dunleavy voiced support for it. Five Alaskan Republican legislators sent a letter to Dunleavy urging him to direct Acting Attorney General Ed Sniffen to bring the state into the suit. However, according to statements by both Dunleavy and the Department of Law, the State did not have adequate time to review the suit. The administration quickly backtracked, however, and last Thursday, Dunleavy released a statement saying that Alaska had filed an amicus brief in support of the case. “I agree with the AG that the integrity of this election is a critical bedrock principle of our republican form of government. There are too many important questions that need to be answered to give the American people confidence that their vote counts,” Dunleavy said in a statement. He added that, while states should exercise caution when involving themselves in other states’ elections, the “issue of election integrity impacts all of us, and the questions of free and fair elections must be answered in order for Americans to have confidence in our system.” The Alaska Department of Law issued a short, four sentence statement. “The request follows 19 other states that have supported Texas in its effort to safeguard the integrity of the election and ensure the election was fair and honest,” the statement reads.
Like Trump—who has thus far refused to concede the election—and hundreds of other elected GOP officials, Dunleavy has not acknowledged Biden’s victory. One hundred and twenty-six House Republicans also signed the amicus brief, some of them contesting the very election results that elected them into office.
Unlike Trump and Dunleavy, however, two thirds of Alaska’s Republican delegation have publicly stated that it is time to transition into a new administration. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young have both acknowledged Biden’s victory, with Sen. Murkowski being one of the first Republicans in the Senate to congratulate the president-elect. Senator Dan Sullivan, who is politically viewed as a close Trump ally, has only on Monday acknowledged the result of the election. Sullivan in early November said that Trump’s lawsuits should be allowed to move forward.
Before Alaska announced its intent to officially join the case, Jana Lindemuth, who served as Attorney General under former Governor Bill Walker, issued a statement harshly criticizing Gov. Dunleavy’s consideration of the lawsuit. “Make no mistake about it, that lawsuit is not about election integrity and protecting the fundamental democratic principle of one vote for one person. Instead, it seeks to invalidate millions of votes cast in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – the states which helped secure President Donald Trump’s defeat,” Lindemuth wrote. Pointing out the recklessness of the move, she warned that the suit could have set a precedent of elections becoming a legal contest between states rather than candidates. This in turn could allow other states to call Alaska’s elections into question, she wrote.