All 538 members of the Electoral College voted across the country Monday – including the 18 electors in Ohio.
It’s a process described in law and with lots of formality, but little suspense. Ohio's 18 electors were pledged to President Donald Trump.
So when Ohio campaign adviser Bob Paduchik, the chair of the state’s 55th electoral college, announced the unanimous vote to the electors and observers in the Ohio Senate chambers, it was not a shock.
Ballots are counted and the total is announced to chair @Paduch. Of course there’s no suspense here - all 18 are pledged to Trump and these are GOP loyalists - but it’s all part of the process. pic.twitter.com/pmmt2cxQz4
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) December 14, 2020
(All of those in the chamber wore masks and were seated far apart.)
Trump won Ohio by a little over 8 points. The pandemic and record turnout made this election challenging for elections officials, poll workers and voters, said Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
“Working together, we were able to accomplish something that many thought was impossible – the most difficult election of our lifetime. It’s not hyperbole to say the 2020 was perhaps the most difficult election ever conducted in the state of Ohio," said LaRose.
Though Trump got over 313,000 more votes this year in Ohio than in 2016, his statewide total was just under his margin of victory from four years ago – because more than 5.9 million Ohioans cast ballots, the highest in state history.
The election in Ohio was never disputed by Trump, though Ohio is among several states that used machines from Dominion Voting Systems. Baseless claims of vote switching on those machines have been rejected by courts, and Dominion notes on its website that those claims “have been debunked by election officials, subject matter experts and third-party fact checkers.”
While there was no question about the Ohio vote among the 18 electors, there were concerns about the vote in other states. There have been threats of violence in some, and Michigan and Arizona had to hold their electoral college votes in secure locations because of fears for the safety of electors.
Allen County Republican Party chair Keith Cheney is an elector from Lima, and said after the vote: "The bottom line is, I’m here as an elector in the state of Ohio. We did our job. We voted for the president of the United States, and I’m proud to sign those certificates today.”
Two electors who had been selected by the Ohio Republican Party in September weren’t at this session – Patricia Weber of Akron and Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott.
Lee Ann Johnson, chair of Ohio Women for Trump and the wife of Ohio Trump campaign honorary state co-chair Congressman Bill Johnson, was picked to fill in for Weber.
“I do have questions about it nationwide. There are still cases pending in court, and we just have to see what that outcome will be," Johnson said after the vote.
There have been nearly 60 challenges to the election filed in courts in nine states by the Trump legal team. They’ve lost all but one of them, and some of the cases have been dismissed with prejudice and pointed words from judges.
Elector and Columbiana County Republican Party chair Dave Johnson also says he’s concerned about what he calls “irregularities”. All 50 states have certified their results and declared Joe Biden the winner.
Johnson was asked after the vote if he accepts that Biden is the president-elect: “I don’t. I personally don’t. I have great reservations and I think there needs to be a major bipartisan investigation as to what happened.”
On Friday, the US Supreme Court – including the three justices nominated by Trump – rejected the bid by Texas to toss out the results of the votes in four states Biden won. 126 of the 196 Republicans in the House had backed that lawsuit, including five Congressmen from Ohio: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH 4), Bill Johnson (R-OH 6), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH 2), Bob Latta (R-OH 5) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH 7).
The electoral college vote isn’t the final step. The US Congress will vote to accept the Electoral College votes on January 6.
So far, of Ohio’s 13 Republican members of Congress, only two – Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) – have acknowledged Biden as the president-elect.
And Sen. Rob Portman had held back on that title, saying Trump had the right to pursue his legal claims but also that there's no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the outcome of the election. But a few hours after the electoral college votes were in, Portman put out a statement that said in part: "[A]lthough I supported President Trump, the Electoral College vote today makes clear that Joe Biden is now President-Elect.”