President-elect Joe Biden speaks after the Electoral College formally elected him as president, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

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Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution says that each state “shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors” to elect the president. And in accordance with the Constitution and federal law, each state’s electors convened on Monday, Dec. 14 and formally cast their votes. More than enough of those votes went to Joe Biden — 306 — for him to become the next president of the United States.

That’s how the law works. That’s how order works.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about “alternate electors.” But that hasn’t stopped groups of Republicans in several states that voted for Biden from claiming, without any legal authority, that they are actually their state’s electors as part of an effort to keep President Donald Trump in office.

This isn’t exactly a fringe effort, even though it’s been dismissed by many Republican leaders in those states. It has been amplified by a top Trump advisor and by Trump himself. Sadly, it’s a fitting bookend for an administration that began by pushing “alternative facts” to be closing out with a weak, deluded argument about alternate electors.

Though Trump still refuses to come to terms with his defeat, more Republican members of the U.S. Senate are finally joining Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins and what had been a handful of GOP senators in acknowledging the reality of Biden’s victory.

“Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday while congratulating Biden in a speech. “But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The Electoral College has spoken.”

These recognitions that the sky is in fact blue come after embarrassing performances by Trump’s lawyers and associates in court, in front of state legislatures and in the court of public opinion.

The “kraken” that attorney Sidney Powell was going to unleash fell flat, and apparently couldn’t spell. A supposed expert was way off on voter turnout numbers and mixed up voting jurisdictions. Allegedly dead voters weren’t actually dead, or didn’t actually vote. A star witness in Michigan, whose allegations were already deemed “not credible” by a judge, rambled and repeatedly interrupted a Republican state legislator when he tried to make sense of her presentation.

When you’re launching massive accusations about such a significant issue, the details matter. And they can have serious implications. Case in point: the former police officer in Texas who is accused of holding an air conditioning repairman at gunpoint because he believed the repairman to be part of a ballot fraud conspiracy. Authorities say those fraud allegations are unfounded.

“We are lucky no one was killed,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “His alleged investigation was backward from the start — first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened.”

Backward from the start is also an accurate way of describing Trump’s push to overturn the election. He and his associates started by making wild allegations without proof, and then scrambled to find the evidence to fit the claims after the fact. Having failed to produce actual proof and instead relying on already-explained inconsistencies and discrepancies, they continue to demand that the accused — America’s entire electoral system — prove the absence of fraud. It has completely inverted the fundamental legal principle of burden of proof. Conservatives used to care about this stuff.

Judges, who are a critical part of maintaining law and order in our country, have resoundingly dismissed arguments from Trump’s legal team and allies.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote in a unanimous federal appeals court ruling against Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania. “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Still, these decisive losses in court and recounts confirming Biden’s victory apparently have not convinced a large number of Republicans, who believe the election was not free and fair. It’s not that we don’t care about their perspective, but we hope they look at the facts.

Thankfully, this is America. People can believe what they want to believe. But that is what the Trump election argument is at this point: belief. It’s rooted in feelings that something was amiss with the election, not in facts that fail to prove the wholesale fraud that he alleges.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa had an interesting exchange with a reporter on Monday, as reported by the Hill, when asked if he considered Biden to be the president-elect.

“I don’t have to,” Grassley responded. “The Constitution does.”

“I follow the Constitution,” Grassley added. The rest of America should do the same.

The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...