Four people met at the State House on Monday to formally cast Maine’s electoral votes for president.

Elector-at-large Shenna Bellows of Manchester speaks Monday with page Bruce Hall while voting to affirm the election of Joe Biden as president. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

There were no surprises. Based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, Democrat Joe Biden got two for winning the most votes statewide, and he and the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump, split the other two, because each took one of the state’s congressional districts.

Certficates of the votes were sent off to Washington, where they will be counted along with those from the 49 other states and the District of Columbia, as part of an arcane, multi-step process, created in the 18th century.

This ought to be a formality, a tradition that honors our past, a testament to the strength of our long-surviving democracy.

But this year, it’s something else.

With Trump attacking the integrity of our democracy in his bid to stay in office, the Electoral College has become another weak point in the system where the president and his supporters can try to apply leverage to overturn the election.

His baseless claims of massive fraud have not gotten any traction in court, but he has fueled increasingly dangerous encounters across the country.

Electors in Michigan had to pass through heavy security to cast their votes Monday because of “credible threats of violence” against them.

This followed a series of protests of the election results timed to intimidate officials who would be conducting the Electoral College process Monday. Heavily armed protesters vandalized historically Black churches in the nation’s capital, while a counterprotester was shot in Olympia, Washington, in what a state police spokesman called a riot.

So, the world watched the Electoral College process this year with a level of suspense that it should not command. Gladly, it was a big disappointment for anyone looking for something other than a dutiful performance of a civic ritual.

We are relieved to report that there were no violent disruptions or anti-democratic tricks deployed to throw the election’s outcome into doubt. But that there was any possibility that there could have been is something we shouldn’t take lightly.

President Trump is using every tool at his command to delegitimize this election, at least in the eyes of his supporters. As he turns up the rhetorical heat, local election officials field personal attacks and death threats for doing their jobs.

Now all eyes will turn to Jan. 6, when the electoral votes will be counted in a joint session of the new Congress led by Vice President Mike Pence acting as president of the Senate. Normally, this is a pro forma nonevent. Let’s hope that it’s another dud.


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