As President Donald Trump continues to fire off baseless allegations of voter fraud, the election methods of 50 states hold the spotlight.
At the tail end of the process is a group of electors from each state, who ultimately cast their votes for president.
The State Board of Elections certified Maryland’s election results Dec. 4, which means the state’s 10 electors will help the Democrat get to the 270 votes needed to secure the presidency.
Trump said in late November he’d leave office if electors formalize former Vice President Joe Biden’s win.
Since their first meeting in 1789, Maryland’s electors have cast their votes in Annapolis at the State House — the nation’s oldest state capitol in uninterrupted legislative use — with a few “isolated” exceptions, according to a State Board of Elections spokesperson.
With electors voting Monday at noon, The Baltimore Sun answers questions about what will happen. The meeting will be streamed live at elections.maryland.gov/electoralcollege.
How does the Electoral College work nationwide?
The United States’ presidential election system runs on the Electoral College, meaning votes for the presidential ticket are essentially votes for electors. While their names aren’t on individual state voters’ ballots, it is they who actually cast Maryland’s votes for president and vice president.
The Electoral College has 538 electors. Each state has as many electors as it does members of Congress: in Maryland’s case, one elector for each of its two senators and eight representatives. In most states, including Maryland, the winner of the state’s popular vote takes all its electoral votes.
How are Maryland’s electors appointed? When do they vote?
Party officials pick the people who will serve as electors in Maryland. The parties — Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, the Green, and Bread and Roses parties in 2020 — submit their rosters to the State Board of Elections.
For Democrats, Yvette Lewis, chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, made the calls, said Zachary Holman, a spokesman for the state party. Lewis took recommendations from local Democratic central committees, who recommended people from their districts, per the party’s bylaws. Then, the party’s executive committee approved the list.
It’s been Maryland’s Democratic electors who’ve gotten to cast their votes since 1992. In the presidential election in 1988, Republican nominee George H.W. Bush won the state narrowly.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will then sign a certificate certifying the electors, the State Board of Elections spokesperson said. The votes are then sent to the U.S. Senate president, who reads them before both houses of Congress.
Who are Maryland’s electors, usually?
Electors are typically current or past elected officials or party figures, chosen as an honor and because they are party loyalists, said David Karol, a government and politics professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The Constitution bars members of Congress from being electors, as it does federal employees, Karol said.
Who are Maryland’s electors this year?
The Democratic electors are from a wide range of backgrounds and places statewide.
That includes the national director for women in the NAACP, a former Maryland state senator, a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and the director of the Baltimore mayor’s office of immigrant affairs. The state party has long selected one elector from each congressional district and two at-large electors, as “it’s important every area of our state is properly represented,” Holman said.
“I am pleased to see, not only ethnic diversity, but also geographic diversity from around the state,” said Peter Perini, an elector and former House of Delegates candidate in Western Maryland.
Perini said Gloria Lawlah, former state secretary of aging, will be the president of the electors. She’ll do a roll call to ask electors for their presidential votes, Holman said. Kathleen Matthews, former chair of the state Democratic Party, will be the secretary and call the roll for the vice presidential votes.
Among the electors is a first-time presidential election voter, Catalina Rodriguez Lima, director of Baltimore’s immigrant affairs office. She became a U.S. citizen a few years ago.
Another elector is Kent Roberson, a member of the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee. “It is not lost on me that my grandparents and great-grandparents at one time could not vote, and now I am participating in a system that excluded them,” said Roberson, who is Black.
Could Maryland’s electors vote for someone other than Biden?
Some states do not require electors to vote for the candidate that carried the state, allowing so-called “faithless electors.” Maryland law requires electors to vote for the presidential ticket with the most votes.
Could Gov. Larry Hogan or the legislature change the outcome?
Maryland Policy & Politics
With Maryland’s Democratic-dominated state legislature and Hogan, who refused to endorse or vote for Trump, there is “no scenario in which they would want to do anything to interfere with the Biden-Harris electors chosen by Maryland’s voters,” Karol said.
“Even if they wanted to, it’s not clear whether the courts or the Congress ... would accept them submitting any different slate of electors and electoral count, as some Republicans now want legislatures in battleground states Biden carried to do,” Karol said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Emily Opilo contributed to this article.