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Electoral College Meets To Cast Official Presidential Ballots

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All across the country today, you could watch the work of the Electoral College get done. Electors met in state capitals - and, in some places, virtually - to formalize the results of last month's election, a win for President-elect Joe Biden. This year the ceremonies were streamed and broadcast live as President Trump's refusal to concede has clouded the process and cast partisan doubts on the outcome. Biden will address the nation tonight. And we are joined now by NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow. Hey, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there, Ailsa.

CHANG: Hey. So this is another step closer to Biden's inauguration next month. Tell us what we might expect the president-elect to say tonight.

DETROW: Well, from the excerpts that his transition team has released, Biden is going to continue trying, at least, to unify the country. He's going to say that democracy prevailed, that the integrity of our elections remains intact and that it's time to turn the page and to unite and heal. That language is very, very, very different from how a lot of Republicans are talking about the election. You know, usually we are not paying much attention to this Electoral College vote, but ever since the early hours of election night, President Trump has been trying to cast doubt on the results, raise baseless accusations of fraud and insist that he won an election that he lost.

All along, Biden has tried to downplay that effort and has, in fact, continued to insist he will reach out to Republicans. But as we've been talking about for weeks now, polls have shown a lot of Republican voters have followed Trump's lead. They do not think Biden was legitimately elected, and that is despite the fact that state and local election officials have certified results and that Trump and his allies have lost more than 50 court cases at this point, with judges often saying in the rulings that these lawsuits are baseless and really offer no proof.

CHANG: Right. More than 50 court cases lost, and yet President Trump on Saturday told Fox News that this fight is not over. So I imagine today's events aren't going to change that posture, right?

DETROW: Yeah, there's no indication anything is going to change here. Throughout the day, the president has tweeted various debunked accusations about the election being so-called rigged. And, you know, each time Trump and his allies have come up against reality, they've shifted tactics. They tried and prove - to prove fraud in court and lost, most recently in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. They tried to stop certification of results and failed, and now that electors have met and voted, we are seeing Republicans in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia cast their own alternate electoral college ballots. And some House Republicans are indicating that next month, when Congress counts the votes, they will try to recognize these so-called electors instead.

Now, Democrats control the House. And regardless of the Georgia special election outcome, there are enough Senate Republicans who have acknowledged Biden's win that any vote about accepting electoral slates would almost certainly fail there, too. But this conversation is going to continue.

CHANG: You know, what's interesting is this is typically a day that passes without much fanfare. So what does it tell you that the Electoral College votes have been such a focus this year?

DETROW: Yeah. You know, democracy only works if people accept the results, right?

CHANG: Right.

DETROW: This was not a close election. There were no signs of fraud. And yet by simply falsely insisting that he won, the president has gotten a majority of Republican voters and a notable portion of Republican officeholders to deny reality. And, you know, Biden has continued to stay doggedly optimistic. In the remarks the campaign distributed tonight, he's going to say faith in our institutions held. A lot of people don't seem to think that, and I'm really curious if Biden will try to directly address the distrust on the Republican side or the deep worry on the Democratic side about what these attacks on the election mean for the future.

CHANG: Stay tuned. That is NPR's Scott Detrow. Thank you, Scott.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.