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US Congress certifies Joe Biden’s election as 46th United States president

While President-elect Joe Biden had already secured over 270 Electoral College votes – required to clinch the presidency – the session was keenly watched as incumbent US President Donald Trump has refused to acknowledge the election result.

January 07, 2021 / 02:57 PM IST
Image: Reuters

Image: Reuters

The United States Congress on January 7 certified Joe Biden’s election as the 46th President of the US after counting of Electoral College votes.

Minutes after the US Congress' certification, President Donald Trump said there will be orderly transition on January 20.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino.

“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” Trump added.

While today’s certification exercise was supposed to be a mere formality as Biden had secured more than 270 Electoral College votes – required to clinch the presidency – the session was keenly watched because of incumbent President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the November 2020 election result and blocking a peaceful transfer of power.

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Under the American political system, the president is not directly elected by the people but by the Electoral College — a constitutional group of 538 members. This group is formed every four years to elect the president and the vice-president.

Each state legislature determines the manner in which they want to choose their electors. Other than Maine and Nebraska, states require electors to pledge all votes for that state's winning candidate (by popular vote). For example, under this ‘winner takes all’ method, a candidate who secures the popular vote in California wins all of the state's 55 electoral votes. A candidate needs at least 270 such electoral votes to win the election.

In 2000 and 2016, the candidates with the popular vote nationally (Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, respectively), did not become the president.

Today’s session was marred by pro-Trump rioters storming the US Capitol building which forced the joint session of the Congress to be adjourned for a brief period. The violence inside the Capitol building led to the death of four people. Over 50 individuals were subsequently arrested.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the entire Capitol complex were placed under a lockdown. Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers were evacuated to safe locations.

Leaders from around the world condemned the storming of the US Capitol building, expressing shock at the chaos unfolding in a country they once relied upon for global leadership.

Also read: Joe Biden blasts Donald Trump for whining and complaining about election results

Biden, 78, and California Senator Kamala Harris, 56, are scheduled to be sworn in as the President and Vice President of the country on January 20. The inauguration is expected to be a low-key affair amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read | Analysis: Donald Trump's rage ignites mob assault on democracy
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