It is time to "unite, heal and turn the page" on the US election, President-elect Joe Biden told Americans, hours after the Electoral College affirmed his victory over Republican President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede his loss and filed a litany of legal challenges to overturn the poll results.
The members of the 538-member Electoral College on Monday pushed Biden past the 270-vote threshold to win the race for the White House, one of the final steps required for the 78-year-old Democrat to take office in January next year.
Under the US system, voters actually cast their ballots for electors, who in turn, formally vote for candidates weeks after the election.
In a speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware after the announcement of his victory in the November 3 presidential election, Biden said the US democracy had been "pushed, tested and threatened" and "proved to be resilient, true and strong".
He said "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 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 it 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.
The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens and dozens of legal challenges to test the results. They were heard. And they were found to be without merit. Time and again, President Trump's lawyers presented their arguments to state officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, twice, he said.
They were heard by more than 80 judges across the country. And in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results. A few states went to recounts. All of the counts were confirmed. The results in Georgia were counted three times. It did not change the outcome, Biden said.
This legal maneuver 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 twenty 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.
The former vice president said that every avenue was made available to Trump to contest the results.
He 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.
"And in a case decided after the Supreme Court’s latest rejection, a judge appointed by President Trump wrote: 'This court has allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case, and he has lost on the merits.' Even President Trump’s own cybersecurity chief overseeing our elections said it was the most secure in American history," he said.
"Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy — even when we find those results hard to accept. But that is the obligation of those who have taken a sworn duty to uphold our Constitution...Four years ago, as the sitting Vice President of the United States, it was my responsibility to announce the tally of the Electoral College votes that elected Donald Trump. I did my job.
"And I am pleased — but not surprised — that a number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate have acknowledged the results of the Electoral College. I thank them. I am convinced we can work together for the good of the nation. That is the duty owed to the people, to our Constitution, and to history. In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed," Biden said.