In Michigan, Democratic voters have been promised police escorts from their cars to the state capitol, where they will officially vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday.
In Arizona, state officials are holding the vote in an undisclosed location for security reasons, far from what is likely to be a heated electoral integrity hearing that Republicans will hold at the statehouse.
Even in Delaware, the tiny, deeply Democratic home state of the president-elect, officials moved their ceremony to a college high school, a place where better health and safety controls are in place.
For decades, electoral college voters have been the bureaucrats of American democracy, well below the political radar when they presented the pro forma certification of a new president. Despite its procedural nature, the role has long been viewed as an honor to recognize political stature or civic service.
This year, the electoral college is another piece of routine electoral mechanics that has targeted President Trump’s ongoing attack on electoral integrity. After five weeks of lawsuits, recounts, and Republican investigations into unsubstantiated fraud cases, Americans will turn to the 538 electoral college members to provide some degree of finality to Mr Biden’s decisive victory.
And as small-town voters are harassed and celebrities adapt to heightened security measures, a duty that has long been considered a privilege has also become a headache. Just as voters were preparing to vote on Monday, Mr Trump railed against them on Twitter on Sunday “MOST CORRUPT CHOICE IN US HISTORY” and suggested that swing states could not certify “Without committing a highly criminal crime” – Further concerns about the personal safety of voters.
“Trump supporters were not given the same type of vitriol in 2016,” said Khary Penebaker, a Wisconsin Democratic voter who will cast his vote for Mr. Biden at the Madison State Capitol. “This is creepy stuff, man, and that’s not how America should be.”
Aside from security and pandemic concerns that led to the Michigan and Wisconsin state capitols closing to the public, the trial has become an unlikely event in the news media. From protests outside of the polling stations to livestreams of on-premise activity, voters, state officials and party leaders prepare for an extraordinary rush of attention.
The new attention to voters comes from the fact that the electoral college has received little support from the American public, especially Democrats, who say it does not represent the will of the people after the last two Republican Presidents, George W. Bush and President Trump took over the White House when the referendum was lost.
The certifications on Monday will be carried out against the background of tense partisan severity. The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a desperate effort by Trump allies at the eleventh hour to change the election result. It was the latest in a series of legal defeats. A broader effort to convince Republican-controlled lawmakers to swap Democratic voters for a plan that remains loyal to Mr Trump has also failed.
Despite the legal losses, much of the party has rallied behind the president’s urge to overthrow the will of millions of voters, which has sparked a wave of outrage and threats from supporters who now believe in the president’s conspiracy theories.
On Saturday, thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters demonstrated in Washington DC and in several state capitals, many wearing Trump’s badges and singing “another four years.” Clashes with counter-protesters resulted in several cases of violence.
The anger among the president’s supporters – and their seemingly unwavering adherence to his misrepresentation of a stolen election – could prove difficult to erase.
“I don’t think we’ve got to a point where Joe Biden can rightly be called President-elect,” said Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio Secretary of State who will be casting one vote for Trump in Columbus. “It’s almost ridiculous that anyone would think that President Trump should admit prematurely.”
Even some Republicans, more willing to accept the reality of the elections, seem unable to completely give up hope.
“I imagine Monday could close the door,” said Michael Burke, who has just won re-election as Republican Party leader in Pinal County, Arizona. “Most people are realistic that the path is narrowing for us to change something.” But miracles happen. “
For Democrats, the election of the electoral college will be the final confirmation of the defeat of a president they believe has undermined the very foundation of the country’s political system.
“Our courts and our institutions have decided,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who will vote for the third time on Monday and vote for Mr. Biden. “No politician – no matter his ego and no matter how ruthless his lies – will undermine the will of the people.”
Under the constitution, voters are called to action weeks after an election is over. A majority is legally obliged or obliged to vote for the winner of the referendum in their state. While the constitution allows them to change their votes (unless state law forbids it) and becomes so-called “unfaithful voters,” they never changed the outcome of an election.
Their votes are usually a drowsy affair, a final ceremonial step to move the country towards Inauguration Day.
Not this year.
The 16 who will cast their votes for Mr Biden in Michigan are expected to pass through a line of armed protesters from a group who believe Mr Trump’s election was stolen.
“It’s terrible when these things are used to intimidate people,” said Bobbie Walton, 84, a lifelong political activist from Davison, Michigan and a first-time voter. “I may have to wear one of my favorite t-shirts,” Don’t push, I’m old. “
In Wisconsin, voters were given new security protocols Friday with instructions on how to enter the Capitol grounds through an unmarked side door away from expected protesters.
“You watch the Batman movie and you see him jump through the waterfall to get to the Batcave,” said Mr. Penebaker, the Democratic elector of Waukesha County who is also a gun control activist. “It is like it is.”
Mr Penebaker and Wisconsin’s nine other voters have received a rush of petitions on social media and email in the past few weeks from Trump supporters asking them to decline their allegiance to Mr Biden. Some posted comments on a photo Mr Penebaker shared on Instagram of his teenage son’s new haircut, urging him to leave Mr Biden.
An email from an eastern Wisconsin woman made an apocalyptic plea for Wisconsin’s Democratic voters. “For the love of God, do not destroy America as we know it,” the woman wrote in the email viewed by the New York Times.
Much of the security concern has centered on five states that narrowly chose Mr. Biden – Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. States won by Mr Trump don’t expect much turmoil in their votes. Ohio State Secretary Frank LaRose said he had not requested any additional security measures.
The increasing coronavirus pandemic is contributing to the general feeling of fear. Public health restrictions caused several states to restrict audiences to their events and enforce strict guidelines on masking and social distancing.
As a result, more than half of states plan to broadcast their events live, create transparency, and prevent some of the conspiratorial reasoning that many state officials expect to follow their events.
After voters cast their ballots, the votes are counted and voters sign certificates with the results. These are paired with certificates from the governor’s office showing the state’s vote count. Usually the entire process takes less than an hour.
Van R. Johnson, the mayor of Savannah, Georgia, said his security detail had been increased due to his role as a voter. He described the decision as a “precautionary measure” that was not based on specific threats but was a reflection of the climate voters in whom they worked.
“It’s a crazy time,” he added, “and we don’t know what these people are going to do.”
None of that, he said, but overshadowed how “intoxicating and humiliating” it is to be one of 16 democratic voters, the first in Georgia in nearly three decades, the last time a Democrat won the state.
One Wisconsin voter, Madison State Representative Shelia Stubbs, said she cried with joy after being named a voter this year.
“To be an African American and a woman and be a voter to see Senator Kamala Harris become our Vice President – it’s an” aah! “- Wait a minute,” she said. “I’m so excited.” She said she was told to “do the right thing” but received no threatening messages.
While the process of selecting voters varies, they are usually chosen by the States parties. Each state has the same number of voters as senators and representatives in Congress, plus three voters from the District of Columbia that is not in Congress.
There are no real qualifications for becoming a voter beyond a deep connection with a political party, whether as an activist, donor, politician or super-volunteer. Those asked for service ranged from former President Bill Clinton to Mary Arnold, a retired social worker who chaired the local Democratic Party in Columbia County, Wisconsin’s voting edge.
Ms. Arnold says most of her neighbors in Columbus, the small town of about 5,000 people where she grew up and now retired, were both supportive and excited.
“If people want to push me back, let them go,” she said. “I’m sure I won’t let anyone try to push me around – I’ll do what I’m supposed to.”
In Delaware, thanks to John D. Daniello for helping start Mr. Biden’s political career, he said he drafted the president-elect to replace him on New Castle County Council in 1970.
The 88-year-old former party leader is disappointed that his daughter, the current party leader, cannot accompany him to college high school, where he will cast his vote. And he’s not sure if, given his age and the pandemic, he will make it to Mr Biden’s inauguration.
But Mr Daniello has no intention of missing out on his chance to cast his state’s vote for his old friend.
“We are known as the first state to sign the constitution, so I consider my vote to be the first vote for it,” he said. “Hell or high tide, I’ll show up there.”
Rick Rojas, Kathleen Gray, Kay Nolan and Hank Stephenson contributed to the coverage.