- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2020

President-elect Joseph R. Biden asked Americans to “turn the page” on Monday night after his victory was confirmed in Electoral College voting across the nation, while President Trump showed no sign of conceding, even as he lost another election challenge in Wisconsin.

Mr. Biden, addressing Republican suspicions that he stole the election from Mr. Trump, said after one of the longest post-election disputes in history that the system worked.

“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” Mr. Biden said. “‘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 promised, “I will be a president for all Americans. I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did.”

The Electoral College certified Mr. Biden as president-elect in voting across the nation on Monday, one of the final legally mandated steps before his inauguration on Jan. 20. He received a total of 306 electoral votes to Mr. Trump’s 232.

Six bitterly contested battleground states cast their electoral votes for Mr. Biden, with some electors receiving police protection and Arizona’s delegation meeting at an undisclosed location, reflecting the mood of the divided nation and the frustration of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all cast their votes for Mr. Biden, locking in the votes in states where the Trump legal team has repeatedly challenged the election with allegations of illegal voting. The president’s lawyers lost another challenge at the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday as the electoral votes were being counted.

The Trump campaign also filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Mexico on Monday, arguing that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver “flooded” the state with mail-in ballots and altered election laws without the state legislature authorizing any changes. Mr. Biden won New Mexico by about 10.8 percentage points.

Asked whether Mr. Trump would accept the results, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany didn’t respond to reporters. The president said earlier on Twitter that his team would be forced “to do it the hard way,” an apparent reference to Republican plans to object to Mr. Biden’s electoral votes next month in Congress.

Attorney General William P. Barr, who has said the Justice Department hasn’t found election fraud on a scale large enough to affect the election outcome, resigned Monday, effective Dec. 23. Although his resignation letter was warm with praise for the president, Mr. Trump had been weighing whether to fire him.

And pro-Trump Republican electors in the swing states also met to cast votes Monday for the president. While their action had no impact on the Electoral College results, Republicans said it was an insurance policy in case a court overturns the election results in pending legal actions filed by the Trump campaign.

Mr. Biden, 78, is the oldest candidate to win the presidency. He said there is “urgent work” ahead. His win was certified on the same day that the first Americans received COVID-19 vaccinations, and the U.S. surpassed 300,000 deaths related to the disease.

“Getting the pandemic under control to getting the nation vaccinated against this virus,” Mr. Biden said. “Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today — and then building our economy back better than ever.”

In Georgia, former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams presided over the Electoral College vote at the state capitol, calling the roll of electors for Mr. Biden. She said the electors were “ensuring that the nation is led by a good man who believes in the soul of our nation.

“We are electors, but we are also servants — servants of a better Georgia, servants of a better future and servants of the United States of America,” Ms. Abrams said.

In Pennsylvania, another state that Mr. Trump won in 2016, electors cast 20 votes for Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris. Electors in Michigan, some arriving at the capitol with a police escort, also cast their votes for the Democratic ticket.

“The people have spoken,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. “After today, the results will be final. It’s time to move forward.”

Michigan’s capitol was closed to the public before the vote because of “credible threats of violence,” said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

After Wisconsin cast its 10 votes for Mr. Biden, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers exclaimed, “We made it.”

“Now more than ever, our country deserves leaders who will put people first and return kindness, empathy and compassion back to the White House,” Mr. Evers said.

Arizona held its Electoral College meeting at an undisclosed location for the safety of its electors, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told CNN.

“We’ve seen increasingly escalating sort of rhetoric and threats throughout the last week and decided to move this for the safety of everyone involved,” she said.

In Albany, New York, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton cast an electoral vote for Mr. Biden, as did her husband, former President Bill Clinton. They were applauded in the chamber where the voting was held, as the heavily Democratic state cast its 29 votes for Mr. Biden.

The Electoral College voting takes place every four years on a specified date in December. The normally obscure process took on heightened significance this year, with continuous cable news coverage, due to Mr. Trump’s ongoing legal challenges to the election and allegations of widespread voter fraud.

The electors observed pandemic guidelines, wearing masks and practicing social distancing as they cast their votes in capitols across the country.

Mr. Trump criticized Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia as a “fool” before the Electoral College balloting began.

“Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW,” Mr. Trump tweeted. He warned that unless Mr. Kemp took action to verify signatures on mail-in ballots, it “could be a bad day” for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in their runoff elections on Jan. 5.

Some in the GOP plan to object to Mr. Biden’s electoral votes in Congress on Jan. 6, which is the final step in the election process before Inauguration Day.

Thirty-three states and in the District of Columbia have laws requiring electors to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in those states. But 17 other states allow electors to vote for the candidate of their choice.

The Supreme Court ruled last summer that so-called “faithless electors” who don’t vote for the candidate they were pledged to support can be punished by the state. In 2016, there were six “faithless electors,” but there were none reported on Monday.

Republican electors in six battleground states cast votes for Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Monday in hopes a court might overturn Mr. Biden’s win. Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer said Republican electors met at the state capitol to cast votes for Mr. Trump because a Trump campaign lawsuit challenging the state’s election is pending.

“Had we not meet today and cast our votes, the President’s pending election contest would have been effectively mooted. Our action today preserves his rights under Georgia law,” Mr. Shafer tweeted.

The final official step in the election process is scheduled for Jan. 6, when Congress meets to vote on Mr. Biden’s slates of electors from each state. Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama said he will object to Mr. Biden’s votes, but he will need at least one senator to join him in objecting to have any chance of rejecting the Democrat’s slates of electors.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Monday it would be a “bad mistake” for any senators to object to the Electoral College results.

“I just hope they realize that it would be futile, and it’s unnecessary,” Mr. Cornyn told reporters.

After the Electoral College’s results were announced, more GOP senators acknowledged Mr. Trump’s loss.

“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, Ohio Republican.

The House and Senate would need to agree to reject Mr. Biden’s electoral votes from individual states.

As the Electoral College vote played out, state legislatures and courts were considering challenges and reviews of the election.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Trump in his election challenge, saying the president’s request to toss out four categories of absentee ballots could not be granted.

“We conclude the campaign is not entitled to the relief it seeks,” the court ruled.

The decision was 4-3, with the court’s swing justice, Justice Brian Hagedorn, siding with the court’s liberal justices.

In Arizona, Scott Jarrett, the director of Election Day for Maricopa County, told the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday that the election was fair, dispelling accusations about widespread voter fraud or machine errors.

Mr. Jarrett said the turnout was higher than it has been in 50 years in the battleground state’s largest county, but he pushed back against accusations from pro-Trump lawyers and advocates that poll observers were kept out of the counting centers.

Observers were allowed to see the process of counting ballots, but they were kept 6 feet away because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos is scheduled to testify before the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee on Tuesday, fielding questions about election irregularities in the battleground state.

Pro-Trump lawyers have accused Dominion of manipulating votes in favor of Mr. Biden and connecting to the internet, in violation of election laws. The lawsuits filed in several states, including Michigan, sue state officials, not the company.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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