New York, Dec 15: "In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed," declared Joseph Robinette Biden after his election as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and the first Indian American elected as vice president.
The electors began officially casting their ballots in state legislature buildings across the country at different times starting at 10 am Washington time, and Biden and Harris crossed the 270 mark to win when California electors voted at 5 p.m. The voting was to continue for two more hours till Hawaii voted at 7 p.m. (Tuesday 5.30 a.m. in India).
In the US political system, the presidential elections are held indirectly with the citizens voting for the 538 members of the electoral college distributed among states based on their size. These electors formally elect the president and vice president with separate ballots.
Biden and Harris got 306 electors, including former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York, while President Donald Trump got only 232.
The way was cleared for the electoral college to vote after the US Supreme Court threw out on Friday an appeal by Republicans against the conduct of the elections in some of the states and Wisconsin State Supreme Court on Monday dismissed another case brought by Trump.
Trump and his supporters, however, have not given up and threaten more lawsuits and action in Congress in January when it will meet to certify the electoral college votes paving the way for the swearing in of Biden and Harris on January 20.
Trump has alleged that there was widespread fraud in the elections and in his continuing steady drumbeat of tweets, he alleged as recently this morning that the election was "rigged." Democrats have accuse Trump of undermining the people's confidence in the election system.
Biden said in remarks prepared for his speech after the voting is complete, "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 added.
Under legal requirements, the state officials will send their results to Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the local chief judge and the nation's Archivist David Ferreiro, who will make them officially available to the public.
The next stage is a meeting of the newly elected Congress on January 6 to formally count the electoral votes and certify the election.
At this stage members of Congress can object to the election result -- as some Democrats in 2016 questioning the legitimacy of Trump's election because they claimed that he had won through Russian interference.
While objections from some Republicans to Biden's election is expected, Congress is unlikely to sustain them as many Republicans in the Senate have said that they have accepted Biden's election.
Till last week when the states completed the formality of counting and declaring the election results, the announcement of Biden's victory was by media based on their projections and not official or legally binding.