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
The Electoral College was the product of compromise during the drafting of the Constitution between those who favored electing 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 electors equal to its total number of seats in Congress: two senators plus however many members the state has in the House of Representatives. Washington, D.C., has three votes, under a constitutional amendment that was ratified in 1961. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote in their state.