With heightened security in place in some states, Democratic electors in the key battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania gave Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris their votes on Monday in low-key proceedings. Nevada’s electors met via Zoom because of the coronavirus pandemic.
There have been concerns about safety for the electors, virtually unheard of in previous years. In Michigan, lawmakers from both parties reported receiving threats.
Legislative offices there were closed Monday over threats of violence. The 16 electors were to meet in the Senate chamber in a ceremony headed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Mr Biden won the state by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points, over Mr Trump.
Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, said the closures were made on recommendations from law enforcement “based on credible threats of violence.”
Georgia state police were out in force at the state Capitol in Atlanta before Democratic electors pledged to Mr Biden met. There were no protesters to be seen less than an hour ahead of the meeting.
Even as the Electoral College was formally confirming Mr Biden’s victory, some Republicans continued to refuse to acknowledge that reality. Yet their opposition to Mr Biden had no practical effect on the electoral process, with the Democrat to be sworn in on January 20.
Despite Mr Biden’s wins in Georgia and Pennsylvania, Republicans who would have been Trump electors met anyway. Pennsylvania Republicans said they cast a “procedural vote” for Mr Trump and Mr Pence in case courts that have repeatedly rejected challenges to Mr Biden’s victory were to somehow still determine that Mr Trump had won.
In North Carolina, Iowa and other states across the South and Midwest where Mr Trump won, his electors turned out to duly cast their ballots for him.
In New Hampshire, before the state’s four electors voted for Mr Biden at the State House in Concord, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. He had delivered a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention in August about the struggle with stuttering he shares with Mr Biden.
Vermont’s electors were the first in the nation to vote Monday and they chose Mr Biden and Ms Harris.
“No, I worry about the country having an illegitimate president, that’s what I worry about. A president that lost and lost badly,” Mr Trump said in a Fox News interview that was taped on Saturday.
Following weeks of Republican legal challenges that were easily dismissed by judges, Mr Trump and Republican allies tried to persuade the Supreme Court last week to set aside 62 electoral votes for Biden in four states, which might have thrown the outcome into doubt.
In 32 states and the District of Columbia, laws require electors to vote for the popular-vote winner. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld this arrangement in July.
Electors almost always vote for the state winner anyway because they generally are devoted to their political parties. There’s no reason to expect any defections this year. Among prominent electors are Democrat Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
The voting is decidedly low tech, by paper ballot. Electors cast one vote each for president and vice president.
The Electoral College was the product of compromise during the drafting of the Constitution between those who favoured 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.
The bargain struck by the nation’s founders has produced five elections in which the president did not win the popular vote. Mr Trump was the most recent example in 2016.
Mr Biden topped Mr Trump by more than seven million votes this year.
And then there’s one more step: inauguration.
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