Presidential transition begins as Trump refuses to formally concede


Provided by Ryan Aralar

Two Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters staff stand in front of a ballot drop box.

by Lucy Ge, News Editor

The General Services Administration (GSA) recognized Joseph R. Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 23 despite President Trump’s continued efforts to undermine the integrity of the election, marking the start of a delayed presidential transition. 

The GSA’s acknowledgment of Biden as the President-elect and Kamala Harris as the Vice President-elect comes 16 days after the Associated Press (AP) called the 2020 presidential election for Biden on Nov. 7. Biden now has access to over 6 million dollars in funds for his transition staff as well as office space and federal officials. Since gaining approval to start the formal transition, Biden has started appointing members of his cabinet, including Ronald A. Klain, a senior campaign adviser, as his chief of staff. 

Since Biden won on Nov. 7 at 8:25 a.m. PST, rather than formally conceding, Trump has tweeted over 90 statements and videos that have been flagged by Twitter as misleading or incorrect regarding election integrity. Among other claims marked as disputed, he called the presidential election “rigged” multiple times, claimed “ballot counting abuse,” asserted that the Georgia recount is a “scam,” falsely declared victory and insisted that “many illegal votes” had been found in Wisconsin. The Trump campaign has also filed dozens of lawsuits alleging voter fraud across states. 

“He’s tarnishing the integrity of elections officials and the voting systems,” County Clerk of Santa Cruz County Gail Pellerin said. “And that’s a real disservice to the people who worked tirelessly to make this election happen, because we [as election officials] have gone to great lengths to audit and verify the accuracy of the vote.”

Pellerin says that there is one possible case of voter fraud out of the 146,345 recorded votes in Santa Cruz County, which will be further investigated before a final certification of votes on Dec. 1. Meanwhile, Inyo County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Kammi Foote notes that she has not found any “targeted fraud” in her own county. 

“Based on all of the checks and balances that we have in place, post-election audits that we just completed, everything appears to be an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Foote said.

Although a formal concession from Trump is not necessary for Biden to take office on Jan. 20 of next year, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Professor of Political Science Eric R.A.N. Smith believes that Trump’s refusal to recognize Biden as the winner has delayed the presidential transition process, which usually begins after the winner of the election becomes apparent. 

“Government is a huge operation,” he said. “The incoming president has a large staff that have very specialized tasks. By stalling, [Trump] is not giving the Biden staff time to get ready to deal with America’s problems, and that makes the problems worse.”

On the other hand, upper school history teacher Carol Green thinks that the GSA’s decision to wait to hand over transition resources to the incoming Biden-Harris administration is understandable given the contentious nature of this year’s election. 

“Everyone’s made such a big deal about how this is going to be a contested election that the [GSA’s] delay itself was seen as a political tool,” she said. “But in any given year, if there was an election that was this contested [and] this close, it makes sense that you would want to wait to see how things shake out before you release a lot of money for a transition.”