WASHINGTON — The Electoral College gave Joe Biden a majority of its votes Monday, confirming his victory in last month's election in state-by-state voting that took on added importance this year because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he lost.
California's 55 electoral votes put Biden over the top, clearing the 270-vote mark that affirmed he will be the nation's next president.
Heightened security was in place in some states as electors met on the day by federal law. Electors cast paper ballots in gatherings that took place in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with masks, social distancing and other virus precautions the order of the day. The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.
There was little suspense and no surprises as all the electoral votes allocated to Biden and Trump in last month's popular vote went to each man.
In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the six battleground states that Biden won and Trump contested — electors gave Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris their votes Monday in low-key proceedings. Nevada’s electors met via Zoom because of the coronavirus pandemic.
When all the votes are in, Biden was expected to have 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump. Hawaii was the only state that had yet to vote. Biden topped Trump by more than 7 million votes nationwide.
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy 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 is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal.”
Biden renewed his campaign promise to be a president for all Americans, whether they voted for him or not, and said the country has hard work ahead on the virus and economy.
Former Maryland state Sen. Gloria Lawlah, in a state Biden won easily, said the votes for the Democratic ticket were “a repudiation of hate, a repudiation of divisiveness."
But not everyone was ready to say the election was over, even with the casting of electoral votes. Trump has refused to concede and continues to make unsupported allegations of fraud.
There have been concerns about safety for the electors, virtually unheard of in previous years. In Michigan, lawmakers from both parties reported receiving threats, and legislative offices were closed over 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 at the state Capitol in Atlanta before Democratic electors pledged to Biden met. There were no protesters seen.
Even with the Electoral College's confirmation of Biden’s victory, some Republicans continued to refuse to acknowledge that reality. Yet their opposition to Biden had no practical effect on the electoral process, with the Democrat to be sworn in on Jan. 20.
Despite Biden’s wins in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Republicans who would have been Trump electors met anyway. Pennsylvania Republicans said they cast a “procedural vote” for Trump and Pence in case courts that have repeatedly rejected challenges to Biden’s victory were to somehow still determine that Trump had won.
Retiring Michigan congressman leaves GOP
U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, a retiring Republican from Michigan, says he is disaffiliating from the GOP and becoming an independent for the rest of his term.
In a letter to Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Mitchell wrote, “It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.”
He also said it was unacceptable for Trump to have attacked the Supreme Court for rejecting his team's lawsuit and for party leaders and the House Republican Conference to participate in Trump's efforts to get the election results overturned based on conspiracy theories.
Mitchell says he voted for Trump.