Democrat Joe Biden on Monday won the state’s state vote for universities, which formally decides the US presidency, other than ending President Donald Trump’s floundering campaign to reverse his loss in the November 3 election.
California, the most populous state, delivered its 55 votes to Biden on Monday afternoon, officially placing the former vice president over the 270 votes needed to secure the White House.
Based on the November results, Biden earned 306 votes for polling colleges for Republican Trumps 232.
Earlier in the day, voters in several major battlefield states where Trump has unsuccessfully reversed the result – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – voted for Biden, who will take office on January 20 along with running mate Kamala Harris.
Traditionally a formality, the Electoral College voted – set for Monday under federal law – assumed great importance because of Trump’s unwarranted allegations of widespread fraud.
Biden scheduled a prime-time address at 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday (0030 GMT on Tuesday) to mark the occasion and urge Americans to “turn the page” on the Trump era.
“The flame of democracy was kindled in this nation a long time ago,” he was expected to say, according to excerpts released by his transition team. “And we now know that nothing – not even a pandemic – or abuse of power – can put out that flame.
“In this struggle for the soul of America, democracy reigned.”
There was almost no chance that Monday’s vote would negate Biden’s victory and, with Trump’s legal campaign to turn the results around, the president’s faint hopes of holding on to power persuaded Congress not to accept Monday’s vote in a special session on January 6. – an attempt that is almost certain to fail.
Once in his office, Biden faces the challenging task of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, reviving the US economy and rebuilding ties with US allies abroad by Trump’s “America First” policy.
Threats of violence
In Arizona, at the beginning of the voter rally there, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Trump’s allegations of fraud had “led to threats of violence against me, my office and those in this room today,” echoing similar reports of threats and threats in others states.
“While there will be those who are outraged that their candidate did not win, it is clearly un-American and unacceptable that today’s event should be anything less than an honored tradition held with pride and celebration,” Hobbs said.
A group of Trump supporters called on Facebook for protests all day on Monday outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, one of the hardest-fought states where Trump lost.
But by early afternoon, only a handful had gathered, including Bob Ray, 66, a retired construction worker. He held up a sign that read, “Order a forensic review,” “Save America,” and “Stop Communism.”
Under a complicated system dating back to the 1780s, a candidate becomes President of the United States not by winning a majority of the popular vote but by the Electoral College system, which assigns ballot papers to the 50 states and the District of Columbia largely based on the size of their population.
Voters are usually party loyalists representing the winning candidate in their state, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, who distribute some of their ballot votes based on which candidate won each of the states’ congressional districts.
While there are sometimes a handful of “rogue” voters who vote for someone other than the winner of their state’s popular vote, the vast majority stamp the results.
Trump said at the end of last month that he would leave the White House if the Electoral College voted for Biden, but has since continued with its unprecedented campaign to end its defeat. On Monday, he reiterated a series of allegations of unsuccessful election fraud.
“Swing States that have found massive VOTER FRAUD, as everyone is, CANNOT LEGALLY CERTIFY these votes as complete and correct without committing a serious criminal offense,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump had called on Republican state legislators to appoint his own voters, largely ignoring the will of the electorate, but lawmakers largely rejected the idea.
“I fought hard for President Trump. No one wanted him to win more than me,” said Lee Chatfield, Republican Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, in a statement. “But I also love our republic. I can not understand that I risk our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution that retroactively changes the voters of Trump.”
Once the voting at Electoral College is complete, Trump’s only remaining gambit would be to persuade Congress not to certify the bill on January 6.
Any attempt to block a state’s results and thereby change the overall American sentiment must receive majority approval from both chambers of Congress that day. Democrats control the House of Representatives, while enough Republicans in the Senate have recognized Biden’s victory to ensure that any challenge is likely to fail.
In 2016, Trump won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. The formal vote received extra attention when some Democratic activists urged voters to “go rogue” against Trump. In the end, seven voters broke lines, an unusually large number but still too few to swing the result.