Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden has told election-weary Americans that it is time to “turn the page”, after the Electoral College affirmed his triumph over President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede and filed a litany of legal challenges to overturn the poll results.
The 538-member Electoral College on Monday pushed Biden past the 270-vote threshold to win the bitterly-contested race for the White House. It was one of the crucial steps required for the 78-year-old Democrat to take office on January 20 as the 46th US President.
Under the US system, voters actually cast their ballots for electors, who in turn, formally vote for candidates weeks after the presidential election. Biden won the November 3 election with 306 electoral college votes to incumbent Republican President Trump’s 232.
The Electoral College votes will now be sent to Congress to be counted formally next month. Though some House Republicans have indicated they will object to the results in key states, they can do little more than delay the process during a joint session of Congress on January 6.
In a speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware after the announcement of his victory in the election, Biden said the US democracy had been “pushed, tested and threatened” and “proved to be resilient, true and strong”.
He criticised President Trump’s attempts to overturn the result and said the “will of the people prevailed”.
“The rule of law, our Constitution and the will of the people prevailed” over Trump’s efforts to undo the results of the election, the former US vice president said.
“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame,” Biden said.
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. 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 said.
Biden said the election outcome should be celebrated, not attacked, that more than 81 million votes were cast for him and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
This too is a record number. More votes than any ticket has received in the history of America. It represented a winning margin of more than 7 million votes over the number of votes cast for President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, he said.
“Altogether, Vice President-elect Harris and I earned 306 electoral votes well exceeding the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory. 306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes Donald Trump and Mike Pence received in 2016.
“At that time, President Trump called his Electoral College tally a landslide. By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then,” Biden said.
“And I respectfully suggest they do so now. If anyone didn’t know it before, they know it now, Biden said as he referred to the allegations of voter fraud by Trump, which were dismissed by the US courts.
This legal manoeuvre by the Trump campaign was an effort by elected officials in one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse, he said.
“It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honour our Constitution.
“Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort. The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump and his allies that they would be no part of this unprecedented assault on our democracy,” Biden said.
President Trump, who shows few signs of conceding, has not commented on the decision of the Electoral College.
The former vice president said that every avenue was made available to Trump to contest the results.
Trump took full advantage of each and every one of these avenues. Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take. He took his case to Republican Governors and Republican Secretaries of State. To Republican state legislatures. To Republican-appointed judges at every level, Biden said.
The President-elect also laid out the work that will dominate the early days of his administration: the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, including distributing vaccines and slowing its spread as those vaccines become available, and rebuilding an economy battered by the pandemic.
On Monday, the US hit a record of 300,000 deaths from COVID-19 a startling death toll in a pandemic that has divided the nation on political terms. Biden called the deaths “a grim milestone” in the pandemic and spoke to the difficult time many American families will face in the holiday season.
“My heart goes out to each of you in this dark winter of the pandemic. About to spend the holidays and the new year with a black hole in your hearts, without the ones you loved at your side,” Biden said.
“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 — and then building our economy back better than it ever was,” Biden said. (PTI)
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