Should Joe Biden be called President-elect with legal battles and recounts pending?

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — ‘President-elect’ is a term referring to the apparent winner of the United States Presidential Election.

On-going legal battles and recounts have some questioning if that term is appropriate yet.

“It’s fairly apparent who the winner is and I think it is certainly time to start using that term,” David Daly said.

Daly, a Senior Fellow at the non-partisan organization FairVote, says the results are all but final.

“Recounts, traditionally, might move a couple of hundred votes, perhaps three or four hundred votes in an election. We’re talking about tens of thousands of votes right now that separate these two candidates in all of these states,” Daly said. “It would be highly unlikely to find any kinds of discrepancies in a recount that would change an outcome at this point.”

President Trump continues to support allegations of voter fraud, but federal election security officials say there’s no evidence of fraud.

Marc Hetherington, Political Science Professor at UNC Chapel Hill, says the allegations are a danger to democracy. Though, if there were evidence, it would be important for that to be called out as well.

“Making claims of fraud without any evidence of fraud, and you can see this in the public opinion data, has really decreased the amount of belief that republicans specifically have in the outcome of the election,” Hetherington said. “And, you know, that’s dangerous business.”

He says one thing is clear.

“President-elect Biden has won the election,” Hetherington said. “He’s going to have probably over 300 electoral votes and that’s that.”

Jane Hampton Cook, presidential historian and author of the new book Resilience on Parade; Short Stories of Suffragists and Women’s Battle for the Vote and former White House staffer to President George W. Bush says it may not be necessary to use the term at this time.

“If President Trump had conceded this election at this time, then sure, calling Former Vice President Biden ‘President-elect’ would be highly appropriate,” Cook said. “It’s not necessarily inappropriate to call Biden president-elect, I just don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.”

Cook says there’s no harm in reassuring voters of the results. She says not only will Biden and Trump benefit by confirming the election was conducted free and fair, but ensure confidence in future elections as well.

“78% of Republicans have concerns over the election,” Cook said. “More confidence in the results through recounts and legal proceedings I think will just help everyone who didn’t vote for Biden heal and be more accepting by the time you get to January.”

Nelson Beaulieu, a Political Science Instructor at Cape Fear Community College, says try as he might, President Trump’s term will end in January.

“The president’s legal road here is very, very long and it’s very unlikely to succeed,” Beaulieu said. “His term ends on January 20th at noon and at that hour Vice President Biden, President-elect Biden will be sworn in.”

All experts referenced in this story echoed the importance of a formal concession. Though it is not required legally, they say it is something symbolic that has helped in uniting the country through the most contentious elections.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a joint statement that reads in part, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” To read the full statement, visit the CISA website.

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