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Electoral college confirms Joe Biden win

President-elect calls for unity and denounces Trump for assault on voting system
Joe Biden.
Joe Biden.
File picture

Nick Corasaniti, Jim Rutenberg   |   New York   |   Published 16.12.20, 12:33 AM

It began at 10am (local time) in New Hampshire, where electors met in a statehouse chamber festooned with holiday decorations and gave their four votes to Joseph R. Biden Jr. 

By noon on Monday, the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania, ground zero for many of President Trump’s fruitless lawsuits, had backed Biden too. In New York, Bill and Hillary Clinton voted for Biden along with 27 other electors.

And when California cast its 55 votes for Biden at around 5.30pm Eastern time, it pushed him past the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency, putting the official seal on his victory after weeks of efforts by Trump to use legal challenges and political pressure to overturn the results.

With the Electoral College vote behind him, Biden called for unity while forcefully denouncing the President and his allies for their assault on the nation’s voting system. 
In an address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday night, he said the Republican efforts to get the Supreme Court to undo the result represented a “position so extreme we’ve never seen it before”, and called the attacks on election officials at the local level “unconscionable”.

Biden said that “it is time to turn the page” on the election. Praising officials who stood up for the integrity of the system, he added: “It was honest, it was free and it was fair. They saw it with their own eyes. And they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different.”

For all of the turmoil that  Trump had stirred with his conspiracy theories, lawsuits and baseless claims of fraud, the electoral college vote that sealed Biden’s victory was mostly a staid, formal affair, devoid of drama. 

As it always is.

Though supporters of  Trump had promised to mount protests outside the statehouses in battlegrounds that the president had lost, Monday’s voting went largely smoothly; there were no demonstrations that disrupted the proceedings, and in some states, police presence outnumbered protesters.

After Hawaii cast its four votes for Biden, he finished with 306 Electoral College votes, with no electors defecting from the slate. The vote follows six weeks of unprecedented efforts by Trump to intervene in the electoral process and change the outcome of an election he lost by about seven million votes. 

He was joined by many Republicans who supported his unfounded claims of voter fraud, including 126 party members and 18 state attorneys general who supported a case before the Supreme Court that legal experts said had no merit. The court rejected the case on Friday.

One of the few places where there was any drama was Michigan, where a state representative began the day by claiming that the state Republican Party would find a way to defy the Democratic electors won by Biden, and issuing an ominous threat that he could not promise a safe day in Lansing. 

The Republican speaker of the house, Lee Chatfield, responded by stripping him of committee assignments, then issuing a statement forcefully rejecting pleas to appoint a separate, Trump-backed slate of electors.

The vote on Monday officially sends Biden to the White House on his third attempt at the presidency, and after a trying election marked by deep divisions and a devastating pandemic. Biden has aggressively been working to fill out his cabinet to prepare for when he takes office in January, aiming to have a team ready to combat the coronavirus.
The vote also largely removes any cover for Republicans in Congress who for six weeks have largely refused to admit Biden as the President-elect. In providing Trump the room to dispute his loss, staying largely silent as he peddled conspiracy theories about voting fraud, they had presented the college as the new marker for when a presidential victory should be recognised. 

On Monday, some Republicans expressed what appeared to be a grudging acknowledgment that Biden had prevailed. 

New York Times News Service 

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