By Dr. Rais Hussin
The American elections are not as simple as they sound. Take the minimum 270 Electoral College votes needed by either President Donald Trump or former vice president Joe Biden to make their way to victory. They are 270 people entrusted by their respective parties —- Republican or the Democrats —- to vote according to how the American people in each state have elected their next President.
When the news flash that 238 Electoral College votes went for Joe Biden last night, as compared to 212 Electoral College votes for President Donald Trump, what that means is that all 238 (out of a minimal of 270) are already in the corner of Joe Biden. *All he needed was another 32 Electoral College votes, which will meet next month, to confirm Joe Biden as the “President Elect,” at which point Trump must respect the US Constitution to start the process of handing the reins of power to Biden to allow him to be the 46th president of the United States of America.
As this article, completed at 7:00 AM November 5 (Malaysia) shows, Biden is pulling further and further ahead. Biden is doing much better than Hilary Clinton.
When Clinton won the US election by more than three million popular votes in 2016, it mattered not that more Americans were on her side at all. The rules of the game clearly affirmed that she must cross the minimum threshold of 270 electoral college votes, which she did not, in Nov 2016; therefore losing the election.
Indeed, during the interlude between Nov and Dec 2016, there were murmurs from various pundits and political commentators that the 270 people entrusted with the electoral college votes should —- in the interest of the country —- flip their votes to choose Hilary Clinton anyway, therefore, dumping Trump.
That did not happen. Thus, Trump was successfully elected as the 45th President of the United States.
In the current scenario, there is a high likelihood that Biden can immediately reach the 270 electoral college votes in the next 24 hours, if he can claim the six electoral college votes of Nevada; which Hilary Clinton had once won, as things stand, Biden clearly enjoys a strong advantage as the votes are counted, ever slowly but surely.
Why is this the case? As of Nov 5, Biden appears to be leading in Arkansas, which has three electoral college votes. Biden is also projected to be leading in Nevada, which has six electoral college votes, as mentioned earlier, and Biden has narrowly taken Wisconsin, with 10 electoral college votes, with another 16 electoral college votes in Michigan that seems to be going to Biden too. That gives Biden the trajectory to win more and more electoral college votes, as compared with Trump.
Be that as it may, the only way for Biden to go beyond 270 Electoral College votes convincingly, Biden’s camp has to wait for the mail and early physical ballots to be counted too; which some believe have crossed 100 million ballots, the highest since 1927, just as the turn out on the US election at 67% yesterday was the highest ever since the electoral contest between Vice President Richard Nixon’s contest against John F Kennedy, which the latter won.
To form a strong presidency, beyond the West and East coast of the United States only, *Biden has to ideally reclaim Pennsylvania, which is still in the corner of Trump. The 20 electoral college ballots from Pennsylvania, is crucial to Biden, as he has always claimed he is from Scranton, Pennsylvania. But as the mail in ballots come streaming in as this is written, Biden can potentially flip Pennsylvania too in the next few days.
That being said, Trump is not giving up either. He believes he is leading in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia, each of which gives him 20, 16, and 15 electoral college votes respectively, to give him a total of 51 electoral college votes to add to his current 214 electoral college votes to make it a grand sum of 265 total electoral college votes. However, that is still five short of 270 electoral college votes to beat Biden.
In this sense, Biden is the one who seems to be charging ahead to the 270 Electoral College votes first. To consolidate his victory, Biden’s camp should not allow President Trump to suppress the mail in ballots and the early voters, consequently, through any legal verdicts, as the mail in ballots and early votes do verge on another 100 million votes.
They matter deeply to consolidating the moral mandate of Biden; especially granted that this election has been described by the global media as a close call. But the moniker of a close call does not have stick in the minds of many, if all votes are fairly counted.
And to get them as bonafide voters, the lawyers of both sides have to squabble over the differences in state and Federal laws on what constitutes a ballot after November 3.
Be that as it if Biden can take Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin, as Nikkei Asia has reported on November 5, Biden can theoretically be the first to reach 270; as his 248 electoral college votes, would soon been added with 10 electoral college votes from Wisconsin, 16 from Michigan, and 6 from Nevada.
What Malaysia can learn from this process is that democracy can he held peacefully, but the outcomes can always be contested peacefully too, in the case of the United States all the way to the US Supreme Court, even if President Trump has lost his lucky streak.
With a pandemic that is looming over the United States, where some 231,540 people have died as of Nov 2, with another 9,473,581 Americans also infected, a general election can be held only under the most extreme circumstances.
In the future, Malaysia can introduce E-ballots or E-Voting can be introduced to prevent any cross-contamination of the asymptomatic carriers. This would ensure a vibrant democracy.
Meanwhile, it looks like we are going to have a multilateralist US President again !
Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.