Electoral College’s official vote seen as closing off last avenue for Trump
The US Electoral College voted on Monday to officially affirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, according to US media reports.
The battleground states of Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania－ground zero for many of US President Donald Trump’s fruitless lawsuits－supported Biden and Harris.
The Democrat pair received 306 Electoral College votes, which were over the threshold of 270 needed to win the presidency out of 538 votes. Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence received 232 votes.
The New York Times said the vote on Monday put the official seal on Biden’s victory after weeks of efforts by Trump to use legal challenges and political pressure to overturn the results.
In an address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday night, Biden said the Republican efforts to get the Supreme Court to undo the result represented a “position so extreme we’ve never seen it before”, and “it is time to turn the page” on the election.
The electoral votes will now be counted at a special joint session of Congress on Jan 6 before Biden and Harris are inaugurated on Jan 20.
Under the US Constitution, voters in the presidential race support not candidates but electors－usually current and former party officials, state lawmakers and party activists－whose votes later in the process are formally what brings about the result of the election, according to National Public Radio.
Those electors then meet in December to cast their votes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday congratulated Biden on his win.
In his message, Putin wished Biden “every success”, according to a Kremlin statement on Tuesday, and expressed confidence that “Russia and the US, which bear special responsibility for global security and stability, can, despite the differences, really contribute to solving many problems and challenges that the world is currently facing.”
In recent decades, the Electoral College process has been mostly ceremonial and received less attention than the main portion of the election.
“This year’s proceeding, which only occurs every four years, has 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,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, was quoted by NPR as saying.
Election experts, including Ohio Northern University’s Robert Alexander, said Trump’s path to overturning the election result is essentially closed, even if the public messaging goes on.
“I foresee shenanigans. I foresee debate. I foresee some drama,” Alexander said. “But I do not foresee any change in the outcome when all the (electoral) votes are counted.”
On Monday, Trump announced that Attorney General William Barr had submitted a letter of resignation, saying Barr would “be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family”.
Barr’s letter said he was “greatly honored” to have served in the administration and praised Trump for his “many successes and unprecedented achievements”.
Barr has been one of Trump’s biggest supporters, but critics have said Barr used the Justice Department to aid Trump’s allies.
Earlier this month, Barr publicly angered Trump when he told The Associated Press that the Justice Department had found no widespread election fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
Trump told Fox News on the weekend that Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, whom he labeled “an outstanding person”, will become acting attorney general.
Agencies contributed to this story.