Masked, and from a distance, Pa. electors cast their 20 votes for Biden, Harris

The Electoral College meets in the Forum Auditorium in Harrisburg, Pa., on 12/14/20 ( screen capture)

Pennsylvania’s 20 presidential electors cast their ballots for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Monday afternoon, capping a tumultuous and often chaotic six weeks that saw President Donald Trump and his allies launch an unprecedented legal and rhetorical assault on the nation’s electoral system.

Meeting in the ornate Forum Auditorium, just across the street from the Capitol, instead of their usual spot on the floor of the state House, the masked electors, who observed social distancing guidelines as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage statewide, took about 45 minutes to perform their constitutionally prescribed duties.

“Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral College, where the framers crafted this as a compromise between those who advocated for direct election of the president and those who wanted the congress to appoint the president,” said Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, as she opened the proceedings shortly after 12 p.m. “Our constitution has proven to be remarkable durable and resilient, and the hope of liberty throughout the world.”

The electors were a cross-section of Democratic bold-faced names, including Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale and other luminaries.

The meetings, which took place in state Capitols across the country, continued as Trump and his allies, continued to launch baseless attacks against the election results. As Pennsylvania’s electors met, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court rejected an effort by Trump’s campaign to invalidate 200,000 votes from the state’s two, largest cities, the New York Times reported.

Despite Monday’s seemingly preordained result, Pennsylvania Republicans met Monday to cast what they described as a “conditional vote” for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to “to preserve any legal claims that may be presented going forward,” the campaign’s Pennsylvania spokeswoman, Bernie Comfort, said in a statement.

The procedural vote did not represent “an effort to usurp or contest the will of the Pennsylvania voters.”

Republicans are instead banking on Congress to do that for them. Last week, two top GOP leaders in the state House sent letters to Congress asking them to oppose the state’s electoral vote, when it meets in joint session on Jan. 6.

At least one lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, said he intends to honor that request, though the effort is not expected to be successful.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press