Finally, after three weeks, President-elect Joe Biden is being given the authorization to use federal funds and other resources needed to begin his transition.
What should have been routine authorization from the General Services Administration became, regrettably, yet another example of obstructionism from the current administration. As precious days and weeks ticked by, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy withheld the needed authorization, preventing much of the access Biden's team needed.
That has been frustrating for Biden and a public eager to get see a smooth handoff, but Americans should take heart from the fact that the system, though it took some time, has prevailed. Facing a possible subpoena from Congress to testify as to her reasons — along with growing bipartisan pressure — Murphy signed the authorization Monday, though still declining to "ascertain" Biden as the winner.
In the authorization letter to Biden, Murphy wrote that she had "determined that you may access the postelection resources and services ... upon request," but added: "The actual winner of the presidential election will be determined by the electoral process detailed in the Constitution."
What's important now is that the norms and principles that have served this republic for so long appear to be reasserting themselves, and just in time. Despite tremendous pressure from outgoing President Donald Trump, which included personal phone calls to election officials and a summons to the White House for state Republican leaders, Michigan certified its vote yesterday. The key state of Pennsylvania certified on Tuesday. Georgia, where the Republican secretary of state had to withstand calls for his resignation from the two GOP U.S. senators heading to a runoff, also certified its vote.
"Numbers don't lie," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a recent news conference. "As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we are presented today are correct." Georgia has already done a manual recount, but is doing another machine scan count of ballots at the Trump campaign's request.
The state Board of Elections certified Minnesota's results on Tuesday. Despite the pandemic and an unprecedented number of mail-in and early ballots, the state's election was held without incident, and Biden prevailed over Trump here by more than 7 percentage points. Federal officials themselves called this the most secure election in history, and one that produced the most-ever votes for both the winning and losing presidential tickets.
Courts have rejected one deeply flawed lawsuit after another from the Trump legal team, which failed to produce any evidence for their outrageous claims of a stolen election. Election commissions withstood pressure and were well served by the plans carefully laid before votes were even cast.
Trump stubbornly refuses to concede, and that is concerning to the extent that his minions in federal agencies may offer their incoming counterparts less than full cooperation.
This country's institutions have been tested like never before throughout Trump's norm-busting term and one of the most contentious election cycles ever. Though battered, they held, and in the bargain showed all of us both the enduring power of our principles and the weaknesses that now must be shored up — lest there be a next time.