WASHINGTON (AP, KXAN) — Presidential electors met across the United States Monday to formally choose Joe Biden as the nation’s next president. In Texas, that meeting happened at 2 p.m. at the Texas State Capitol, according to the Texas Secretary of State.
This is the day set by law for the meeting of the Electoral College. But in reality, electors meet in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their ballots. The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.
“Your actions today are a continued testament to the strength of our democracy, as our democracy is only as strong as the processes that is built on,” Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs told the electors on Monday.
The electors’ votes have drawn more attention than usual this year because President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election and continued to make baseless allegations of fraud.
But Matthew Patrick, a presidential elector for Texas Congressional District 32 explained it’s a fairly simple process.
“We’ll come in, we’ll meet, we’ll pick a chair from among all the electors across the state, then we’ll have a written vote for the President,” Patrick said. “And that’ll be tallied up, and then we’ll have a separate vote for the Vice President, and then that’ll be tallied up. Our results are reported to the Secretary of State who’s responsible for transmitting them to Congress for the actual election for the President.”
Trump won Texas and got all of Texas’ 38 electoral votes, but Biden won the election, so he will get the lion’s share of electoral votes—306 to Trump’s 232. It takes 270 votes to be elected.
Biden addressed the nation Monday night, after the electors voted. Trump, meanwhile, is clinging to his unproven claims he won the election, but also undermining Biden’s presidency even before it begins.
“No, I worry about the country having an illegitimate president, that’s what I worry about. A president that lost and lost badly,” Trump said in a Fox News interview that was taped Saturday.
Following weeks of Republican legal challenges that were easily dismissed by judges, Trump and Republican allies tried to persuade the Supreme Court last week to set aside 62 electoral votes for Biden in four states, which might have thrown the outcome into doubt.
The justices rejected the effort on Friday.
During Monday’s meeting of the Texas members of the electoral college, the state’s electors approved a resolution by a vote of 34 to 4 to “condemn the lack of action by United State Supreme Court” for tossing out the lawsuit, which was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The resolution was introduced by Congressional District 10’s Mark Ramsey, of Spring.
Titled “Defending the Integrity of Our Constitution, Our Elections and These United States,” the resolution called on the members of the Electoral College for the state legislatures of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, George and Michigan—the states at the center of Paxton’s lawsuit—to “convene and appoint their electors in accordance with the true constitutional vote of the people, or if undeterminable by appointing their electors directly.”
In 32 states and the District of Columbia, laws require electors to vote for the popular-vote winner. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld this arrangement in July.
Electors almost always vote for the state winner anyway, because they generally are devoted to their political party. There’s no reason to expect any defections this year. Among prominent electors are Democrat Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
The voting is decidedly low tech, by paper ballot. As Patrick mentioned, electors cast one vote each for president and vice president.
The Electoral College was the product of compromise during the drafting of the Constitution between those who favored electing the president by popular vote and those who opposed giving the people the power to choose their leader.
Each state gets a number of electors equal to their total number of seats in Congress: two senators plus however many members the state has in the House of Representatives. Washington, D.C., has three votes, under a constitutional amendment that was ratified in 1961. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote in their state.
“There’s only 538 of us… that gets to do this every four years, so it’s quite an honor,” elector Jim Pikl, representing Texas Congressional District 3, said.
The bargain struck by the nation’s founders has produced five elections in which the president did not win the popular vote. Trump was the most recent example in 2016.
Biden topped Trump by more than 7 million votes this year.
WATCH: Texas electors meet at State Capitol for vote