WASHINGTON – The Electoral College officially chose Joe Biden as the country’s next president on Monday, giving him a solid electoral majority of 306 votes and confirming his victory in the election last month. State-by-state voting took on added significance this year due to US President Donald Trump’s refusal to admit he lost.
Increased security was in place in some states, with voters meeting on the day established by federal law. Voters voted in paper at rallies with masks, social distancing and other virus precautions on the agenda. The results will be sent to Washington and compiled at a joint session of Congress on January 6 chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.
Despite all of Trump’s unsubstantiated fraud allegations, there has been little suspense and no change as all the electoral votes given to Biden and the President in last month’s popular vote have been officially attributed to every man.
Biden defeated Trump, who garnered 232 electoral votes. The Democrat had outnumbered the Republican by more than 7 million votes in the national popular vote.
California’s 55 electoral votes put Biden on top. Vermont, with 3 votes, was the first state to report. Hawaii, with 4 votes, was the last.
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said in remarks prepared for an evening speech. “We, the people, voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And so, now it’s time to turn the page. To unite. To heal. ”
Biden renewed his election promise to be the president of all Americans, whether they voted for him or not, and said the country had hard work to do on the virus and the economy.
But there have been no concessions from the White House, where Trump has continued to make unsubstantiated fraud allegations.
Trump remained in the Oval Office long after sunset in Washington, calling on allies and fellow Republicans while keeping track of the ongoing Electoral College count, according to the White House and campaign aides. The president frequently ducked into the private dining room of the Oval Office to watch TV, complaining that the cable networks were treating her like a mini-election night while not giving her challenges air time.
The President was increasingly disappointed with the size of the “Stop the Steal” rallies across the country as well as the efforts for the GOP to roll out its own voters lists in the states. A presidential wish for a fierce administration defense led to early Monday television appearances by Stephen Miller, one of his fiercest lawyers, to try to downplay the importance of the Electoral College vote and suggest that Trump’s legal challenges would continue until inauguration day on January 20.
Late that day, he took to Twitter to announce that Attorney General William Barr was leaving the administration before Christmas. Barr’s departure comes amid continuing tensions over Trump’s unsubstantiated fraud allegations, particularly after Barr’s statement this month to The Associated Press that election results were not affected by any fraud .
In a Fox News interview taped over the weekend, Trump said, “I’m worried that the country has an illegitimate president, that’s what concerns me. A president who has lost and lost seriously. ”
On Monday, in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – the six battlefield states Biden won and Trump contested – voters gave their votes to Biden and the vice-president. President-Elect Kamala Harris in a low-profile process. Nevada voters met via Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump’s efforts to undermine election results have also raised concerns about voter safety, virtually unheard of in previous years. In Michigan, lawmakers on both sides said they had received threats and legislative offices were closed for threats of violence. Biden won the state by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points, over Trump.
Georgia state police were out in force in the state capital Atlanta before the Democratic voters promised Biden met. No demonstrators were seen.
Even with the electoral college’s confirmation of Biden’s victory, some Republicans continued to refuse to acknowledge this reality. Yet their opposition to Biden had no practical effect on the electoral process, with the Democrat due to be sworn in next month.
Republicans who would have been Trump voters have met in a handful of states Biden won anyway. Pennsylvania Republicans have said they voted a “procedural vote” for Trump and Pence in business courts that repeatedly dismissed challenges to Biden’s victory somehow still had to determine Trump won.
In North Carolina, Utah, and other states across the country where Trump won, his voters were found to duly vote for him. Voters in North Carolina had their temperatures checked before being allowed into the Capitol to vote. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stepped down as a Trump voter and was in quarantine because he had been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated four years ago, were among New York City’s 29 voters for Biden and Harris.
In New Hampshire, before all four state voters voted for Biden at State House in Concord, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington led the group in the pledge of allegiance. He had given a touching speech at the Democratic National Convention in August on tackling the stuttering he shares with Biden.
After weeks of Republican court challenges that were easily dismissed by judges, Trump and his Republican allies tried to persuade the Supreme Court last week to overturn 62 electoral votes for Biden in four states, which could have cast doubt on the result.
Judges rejected the effort on Friday.
The electoral college is the result of a compromise during the drafting of the Constitution between those who were in favor of the election of the president by popular vote and those who opposed giving the people the power to directly choose their leader.
Each state gets a number of voters equal to its total number of seats in Congress: two senators plus the number of state members in the House of Representatives. Washington, DC, has three votes, under a constitutional amendment that was ratified in 1961. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states allocate all of their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote in their state.
The deal struck by the country’s founders produced five elections in which the president failed to win the popular vote. Trump was the most recent example in 2016.
Associated Press editor Jonathan Lemire and AP writers across the United States contributed to this report.