US President Donald Trump has refused to concede a defeat in the 2020 presidential election as it is not up to the media to demand victory for his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The position of the president is legally correct. Until states certify the final result and appoint delegates to the electoral college, no result is final.
But it’s a position that also ignores the reality that in most states almost every vote has been counted and reported. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia were “called out” by the media and political observers. There are not enough pending votes in these countries to change the winner.
In the critical state of Pennsylvania, knowing the number of postal votes outstanding, voter party registration, and the county in which the votes were cast make it impossible to overthrow the current Democratic leadership. The democratic leadership has also passed the point where a recount is automatic.
There was litigation in Pennsylvania over postal votes that were postmarked before election day but received after that day. A ruling by the Supreme Court isolated these votes from other ballot papers in the count. There will be insufficient numbers if it is not allowed to overthrow the Democratic leadership.
Pennsylvania is the critical state whose 20 votes in the electoral college gave Joe Biden more than the 270 votes he needs to be elected president. If the Pennsylvania result is certain, so is the result of choice.
Unless the Pennsylvania State Congress tries to break the Constitution and ignore the outcome and instead appoint delegates to the electoral college who will vote for Trump.
There is also the possibility of “treacherous voters” – pawned electoral college delegates who vote against the instructions given to them by voters in the elections.
But if Trump sticks to a harassment in the electoral college to keep his office, that possibility will be undone by democratic victories in one of the four pre-eminent states.
It will also be wiped out when its own Republican Party refuses to tinker with the accepted presidential election norms.
Only four states remain in doubt
Currently only four states are still in doubt. Both Alaska and North Carolina are likely to back Trump. The delay in these states is due to slow counts caused by later deadlines for absentee ballots.
In the other two standout states, Arizona and Georgia, Biden tops the count, but not enough to reach general agreement on how to query the result.
Arizona has been declared by some media and political watchers, but others have not. The difference in the call is simply a disagreement about whether the number of outstanding votes is enough to overthrow Biden’s leadership.
If Arizona backs Biden, his vote will reach 290, more than enough to overcome some unfaithful voters.
Georgia has yet to be decided as Biden’s lead is narrow and some votes remain to be counted. In addition, Biden’s lead is so small that it triggers an automatic recount.
A recount has also been requested in Wisconsin, but in no state is a recount likely to postpone many votes. Ballot papers are simply scanned again. Unless a ballot is properly scanned and there are disputes about the marking, the new count will hardly differ from the original count.
“Call” vs. “To explain”
In the end, Trump’s decision not to admit defeat depends on whether an outcome is “called” or “declared”.
Anyone who has seen media coverage of an election in the UK has seen the curious ceremony where the returning officer stands on the stage reading the recorded votes for each candidate and declaring one of them a duly elected member.
The media does not play a role in “naming” the result of a constituency, although the media can name the overall election winner.
Post election declarations are possible in the UK as all votes are put in one place for counting. All absentee votes must be under the control of the returning officer for counting and no progressive reports of the result will be published.
But in countries that inherited their electoral procedures from the UK, this curious counting practice was abandoned a century ago. In both Australia and the United States, votes are remotely counted, progressive counts reported, and the media call comes at the point where the progressive totals show the result.
If the count is done remotely, a winner cannot be officially announced until all the counting documents can be compiled and verified.
In the case of Australia, this means that each vote will be counted a second time under the supervision of the returning officer. After the initial preference count is verified, there is a unique Australian practice of distributing preferences to determine the winner.
Trump’s rejection looks like desperate rejection
Analysis is made much easier in Australia by the election commissions, which report the results to the media in an electronic feed.
There is no equivalent to the Electoral Commission in the United States. Each county in each state reports its results separately. Media organizations such as the Associated Press collect these results at the county level and sell the data to broadcasters and publishers.
The ABC bought results data and projected calls from the Associated Press for election coverage.
Once all results have been collected at the county level and all materials related to performing and reviewing the census have been consolidated into an official return, the State Congress will confirm the result as correct. This is the point at which the winner will be announced in accordance with the law and delegates will be appointed to vote for the winning candidate at the electoral college meeting.
A referenced outcome is one where the media, candidates, parties and observers accept that what we know from the progressive outcome is sufficient to “label” them a winner.
There is now enough confidence in the outcome in states to say for sure that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States.
Trump has the right to postpone the concession until the results are officially announced. However, given the progressive results, it seems like a desperate rejection of the election result to refuse to admit defeat at this point.
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