WASHINGTON â€” President-elect Joe Biden on Monday gave his most scathing indictment yet of the attempts by President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn November’s election, hours after the Electoral College officially sealed Biden’s victory.
Biden called the election, which Trump and his supporters have tried to overturn with scores of failed legal challenges, “honest, free and fair.” And he called attacks on the election and election officials “simply unconscionable” and Trump’s attempts to overturn the election an “abuse of power.”
“In America, politicians don’t take power â€” the people grant it to them,” he said. “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic â€” or an abuse of power â€” can extinguish that flame.
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” Biden added. “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.”
He again vowed to be “a president for all Americans” and said his priority is to get the pandemic under control and deliver economic help.
“I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did. There is urgent work in front of all of us,” he said. “Getting the pandemic under control to getting the nation vaccinated against this virus. Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today â€” and then building our economy back better than ever.”
All 538 electors met Monday in their respective states to cast their votes for president based on the election results that were recently certified by all 50 states and Washington, D.C. California’s 55 electoral votes pushed Biden over the 270 threshold needed to win shortly after 5 p.m. ET.
Electors and attendees in California cheered as the Biden vote was announced â€” and enjoyed an even more raucous round of applause when Sen. Kamala Harris’ vote was announced. The vice president-elect is a native Californian.
The California victory left the electoral tally at 302 for Biden and Harris and 232 for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. After Hawaii, the last state to cast its ballots, voted, Biden solidified his win at 306 votes to Trump’s 232.
While Electoral College votes are typically pro forma events that formalize the results of a presidential election, this year’s vote took on added importance as Trump refused to accept the results and urged legislatures in battleground states that Biden won to disqualify Biden’s electors.
While the majority of Republican lawmakers have held off on recognizing Biden as president-elect because of Trump’s stance, Monday’s vote prompted some to speak out.
“The orderly transfer of power is a hallmark of our democracy, and although I supported President Trump, the Electoral College vote today makes clear that Joe Biden is now President-elect,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said that he was “disappointed by the results of the Electoral College vote” but that “we must put aside politics and respect the constitutional process that determines the winner of our presidential election.”
John Thune, R-S.D., the Senate majority whip, appeared to address Trump and his supporters directly saying: “I understand there are people who feel strongly about the outcome of this election, but in the end at some point you have to face the music. And I think once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on.”
Most electors, who were chosen by political parties in each state ahead of the November election, cast their ballots in state Capitol buildings.
The first states to vote were Indiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Vermont, which started to vote at 10 a.m. ET. Trump snagged an early lead after Tennessee and Indiana awarded him their 22 total votes, while Vermont’s and New Hampshire’s electors cast their combined seven votes for Biden.
Trump’s lead evaporated by noon, however, when electors in several other states voted, including three battleground states that were hotly contested by Trump â€” Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
In Georgia, the vote was presided over by Stacey Abrams, who helped get out the vote for Democrats and served as an elector Monday. Abrams was introduced by Rep.-elect Nikema Williams, who noted that the occasion marked the first time the state had voted for a Democrat for president since 1992. “Now all the nation knows that Georgia is a blue state,” Williams said.
In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs noted that while the vote normally has much “pomp and circumstance,” this year “unfortunately had an artificial shadow cast over it in the form of baseless accusations of misconduct and fraud, for which no proof has been provided, and which court after court has dismissed as unfounded.”
She said the allegations from Trump and his allies have “led to threats of violence against me, my office and those in this room today,” despite an “extremely well-run election.”
In New York, former President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton served as electors. They and 27 others in the state cast their votes for Biden and Harris.
Around the same time, the Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed the Trump campaign’s lawsuit to overturn the vote certification in the state. The court ruled against Trump 4-3, finding that some of his allegations were meritless and that other challenges were brought too late.
The state’s 10 electoral votes officially went to Biden about two hours after the decision was handed down.
In Florida, Trump was down an elector ahead of its vote â€” state Sen. Wilton Simpson was forced to skip the vote after he tested positive for the coronavirus, The Miami Herald reported. An alternate was appointed in his place.
Trump’s campaign still had his electors cast votes for him in many of the disputed states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin. While the votes currently carry no weight, Trump adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News that they help keep the door open to contest the results.
“We’re going to send those results up to Congress. This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open. That means that if we win these cases in the courts that we can direct that the alternate slate of electors be certified,” Miller said.
Trump and a number of other Republican officials tried to overturn the results in battleground states, but the Supreme Court rejected the attempt Friday night. Trump has repeatedly said since the Nov. 3 election that he won by a landslide and that the election was rigged.
Biden, however, was deemed president-elect on Nov. 7, four days after the election, once he surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Ultimately, Biden got 306 electoral votes, while Trump won 232.
On Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. ET, the Electoral College votes will be counted in a joint session of Congress. Biden and Harris will be sworn into office Jan. 20.
On Thanksgiving, Trump told reporters that it would be a “very hard thing to concede” even when the Electoral College finalized Biden’s win. He said, “If they do, they’ve made a mistake.” Asked whether he would leave the White House under that outcome, Trump said, “Certainly I will.”