California's 55 electoral votes put Joe Biden over the top in the Electoral College, clearing the 270 electoral vote mark affirming he will be the nation's next president. The voting milestone was announced late on Monday as California electors formalised his victory under the constitutional procedure, dashing President Donald Trump's longshot hopes of reversing the 2020 election results.
The Electoral College took on added importance this year because of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he lost his race for re-election.
The official result came as Mr Trump announced Mr Barr will be leaving his role after the Attorney General submitted his letter of resignation.
The president has publicly expressed his anger about Mr Barr’s statement to the Associated Press earlier this month that the Justice Department had found no widespread election fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
The votes rolled in throughout the day, with electors gathering in all 50 state capitals and Washington, D.C., for incident-free ceremonies in line with the vote totals in those states, after legal challenges and attempts to delegitimise the election from Trump and his supporters.
For Trump, the Electoral College vote marks the end of his wide-ranging legal effort to remain in power. While his legal team and their allies have talked of continuing their litigation, they have also pointed to the Electoral College vote as a crucial and essentially irreversible milestone. On Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court shot down yet another Trump campaign lawsuit, describing one allegation of misconduct as "meritless on its face" and others as simply lodged too late to be considered.
Trump has spent weeks attempting to discredit the election results, and he goaded his supporters to "stop the steal," a rallying cry based on his false claims of widespread fraud. But there was little evidence of significant protests in response to those calls on Monday, even in the states where Trump has been contesting the results, including the battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All six held straightforward ceremonies and recorded all of their votes for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
According to remarks circulated by Biden’s campaign team Biden will say in a prime-team speech, "In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed, we the people voted and 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."
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.
"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."
The final step in Biden's ascension to the White House is a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, at which the electoral votes will be counted and certified. Some House Republicans have signalled their intent to lodge formal challenges, but they are likely to amount to little more than a show of protest that will cause a delay of a few hours. House Democrats lodged similar challenges in 2001, 2005 and 2017, losing all of them.
Mr Biden’s inauguration is expected to take place on January 20, 2021, after which he will move into the White House.
The eyes of the nation will be focused on the U.S. Capitol, where the inauguration ceremony usually sees mass celebrations as tens of thousands of onlookers come to watch the new President taking office and formally become the nation’s 46th President.
But this year, things are likely to be a bit different due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.