In an age of instant electronic communication, the process of choosing the most powerful person in the world is almost quaint. It happened in part in downtown Baton Rouge, at the State Capitol, where eight electors gathered in the ornate Senate chamber to cast their paper ballots.
Across the country, the same process is used. Unfortunately, in the year 2020, some of those meetings were virtual, in deference to a coronavirus pandemic.
But the ballots are signed as they must be according to the Constitution.
They are sent by registered mail to the Capitol, to be formally opened in a proceeding overseen by the vice president of the United States. In olden times, when federal judges were perhaps more important than now, the Constitution required that the U.S. district judge in the district of the state should also receive copies of the ballots. That’s still done according to the old rules.
So the process is as old as the Republic, however much has changed.
When completed, Joe Biden of Delaware will be president of the United States and Kamala Harris of California will be vice president.
Congratulations are in order for the winners, despite the increasingly pathetic noise of the losing party. Challenging election results is allowed by law based on evidence of fraud or maladministration of that continent-wide process. Numerous judges have ruled that the current challenges do not meet the most basic standards of evidence.
And while the losing ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence did a remarkable job of turning out their voters on Election Day — including winning 58% of the vote in Louisiana — the Biden/Harris team's vote clocked in with a 7 million vote lead nationally.
Even if close in a number of states, the election results are clear and the Electoral College reflects that vote. President Trump is undermining our democracy, and his legacy, by continuing to challenge that result with irresponsible comments and tweets and lawsuits that even the judges he appointed have rejected.
Most of Louisiana's Republican members of Congress have put on a cowardly show by playing along.
The president-elect spoke well this week, calling for national unity. The nation’s problems don’t go away because of a successfully conducted election, nor are dangers like the coronavirus tackled by a U.S. government that is in the course of a transition of power between the two parties.
But it is a process that must be undertaken — political, messy sometimes, administratively more difficult because of the vast scope of changes coming in the executive branch of government.
We do not ask for graciousness after such a bitterly contested election. But the public interest requires a commitment from the current president to help the new one as much as possible in the days before Jan. 20.