President-elect Joe Biden has crossed the threshold of 270 votes and officially clinched an Electoral College victory.
With electors in California handing the former vice president their 55 votes, Biden reached a crucial milestone that amounted to another rebuke of President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Members of Congress are expected to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president on Jan. 20.
The Electoral College voting process commenced Monday morning in Indiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Vermont, with electors in other states meeting throughout the day.
For Democrats, the Electoral College vote was a triumphant milestone in a year marked by an ongoing pandemic, a divisive presidential election and concerns about the future of American democracy.
In Georgia, a longtime Republican stronghold that flipped to Biden, electors celebrated the president-elect’s victory as the culmination of years of work by state Democrats.
“We stand not for ourselves and not for our party but for the people of Georgia,” Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and one of her state’s 16 electors, said.
The traditionally pro forma process received top billing this year as Trump and his allies sought to sow doubt in and overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election.
For more than a month after Election Day, the president and other Republicans launched legal challenges in key battleground states, arguing without evidence that voter fraud and systemic irregularities had marred the election results and that legally cast ballots should be tossed out.
Trump and some of his most influential allies also sought to put pressure on state officials and lawmakers to ignore the vote tallies in their states and appoint separate slates of pro-Trump electors in a long-shot effort to swing the outcome of the presidential race.
Those efforts overwhelmingly failed, however, as federal and state judges across the country dismissed the legal challenges and state elected officials refused to intervene in Electoral College proceedings. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a sweeping lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general that sought to contest the election results in four states.
In a highly unusual move, Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser, said on Monday that the Trump campaign would send an “alternate” slate of pro-Trump electors from key battleground states to Congress, an effort that has no basis in the U.S. Constitution or state electoral processes.
Trump’s repeated claims that the election was “rigged” against him have raised concerns of potential violence against state officials and presidential electors. Heading into Monday, states put into place a series of safety measures to protect against potential threats.
Officials in Michigan and Wisconsin closed off their state Capitols to the public ahead of the Electoral College meeting due to security concerns. In Arizona, the state’s 11 electors met at an undisclosed location.
“I’m always harassed. We get the same trolls and those types of things,” said Van Johnson, the mayor of Savannah, Ga., and one of the state’s 16 electors who cast their votes for Biden on Monday. “Nothing as specific as a threat, but we are taking the context of the time that we’re in very seriously, and therefore we’ve enhanced safety protocols.”
In Michigan, one Republican state representative was removed from his committee assignments on Monday after he hinted in a radio interview at plans to disrupt the Electoral College vote and warned of potential violence. The lawmaker, state Rep. Gary Eisen, later said that while he planned to support a group of alternate electors on Monday, he did not intend to suggest the effort would be violent.
Despite the Electoral College vote on Monday, Trump and his allies have insisted that they will continue to pursue efforts to overturn the election results, noting that Jan. 20, when the new president will be sworn in, is the only date set by the U.S. Constitution.
The next step in the presidential transition process comes on Jan. 6, when Congress will meet to certify the results of the Electoral College vote.
Members of the House and Senate can object to a given state’s election results, and some Trump allies have already said they plan to do so. But they will need to recruit at least one Republican senator to join their efforts, and even if they are able to do so, it is unlikely that such a push will deprive Biden of the presidency.