Joe Biden has won a majority of the Electoral College as key battleground states gave him and running mate Kamala Harris more than the 270 votes needed to become the next president and vice president of the United States.
“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing – not even the pandemic – or an abuse of power – can extinguish that flame,” Biden will say in an address to the nation scheduled for Monday night.
“In America, politicians don’t take power – the people grant it to them,” Biden will say in a swipe at President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the November 3 US election and attempts by Trump and Republican allies to overturn the results in the courts and with state officials.
“We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact,” Biden will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by his transition team.
There are 538 electors in the Electoral College and a majority of 270 is required to win. Biden went over the top when California, the largest US state, cast its 55 electors for the Democratic ticket.
All but one state – Hawaii – has cast its electoral votes. Once Hawaii’s electors vote after 00:00 GMT, Biden will have won a total of 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
Established in the US Constitution in 1787, the Electoral College is an archaic institution that – after Trump won in 2016 without also winning the national, popular vote – some would like to see eliminated.
Each state is awarded a number of electors in the college equal to the number of seats in Congress that state has, which is based on population.
Prior to the election, slates of electors are chosen by candidates and their parties within each state. When US citizens vote, they actually cast ballots to elect a slate of electors for their preferred candidate, not the candidates themselves.
Those electors are often lesser-known party loyalists, but in some cases, they are well-known, as in the case of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who served as Biden electors in New York state.
By law, the electors met today in each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia to formally cast their votes. Those documents are then sent to Congress where they will be read and counted on January 6 in a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Some House Republicans have said they will seek to challenge Biden’s selection in that process. Congress, barring any successful objections, will then declare the winner of the presidential election.
Senator John Cornyn, a top Republican, told reporters at the US Capitol that trying to overturn the Electoral College vote in Congress “would be a bad mistake” and said it is time for Republicans to move on and acknowledge Trump’s loss.
“Comes a time when you have to realize that despite your best efforts, you’ve been unsuccessful,” Cornyn said.
“You have got to have a winner and a loser,” he said.
As many as 125 Republican members of the House signed on to an appeal by the state of Texas to the US Supreme Court attempting to overturn the vote in key states that went for Biden. The US high court unanimously rejected Texas’s claims on December 11.
Most Republicans in Congress have so far refrained from acknowledging Biden’s victory, although that now appears to be shifting.
“When it’s over, it’s over. And it should be over Monday,” Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican who is retiring from Congress.
Normally, the meeting today of the Electoral College is a formality but with Trump attempting to challenge Biden’s election at every step of the way, this year is different.Pennsylvania’s 20 electors met in the state capital in Harrisburg to cast their votes for Biden and Harris. It was Pennsylvania that gave Biden the apparent Electoral College win on November 7 after votes were counted
“Maybe the only [Electoral College meeting] that got more attention was the first one” when George Washington was elected president, Pennsylvania state Representative Malcolm Kenyatta said, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported.