AP reports that former Vice President Joe Biden has secured enough electoral college votes to be the next U.S. president. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — Democrat Joe Biden’s native state of Pennsylvania on Saturday secured his victory to become the next president of the United States when the Associated Press reported he had gained enough votes there to win the electoral college.
The AP called Pennsylvania for Biden at 11:25 a.m., which gave the former vice president 284 electoral college votes to 214 for President Donald Trump. That tally includes Arizona, which the AP and Fox News have called for Biden, but other news outlets have not due to the narrow margin and remaining ballots.
“JOE BIDEN DEFEATS PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP,” the news organization tweeted.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris,” Biden said in a statement. “In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America. With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”
Trump, who was at his Virginia golf course Saturday morning, issued a statement vowing to keep contesting the results, accusing Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump said in the statement. “Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.”
The AP call for Biden came after several excruciating days of mail-ballot counting in a handful of battleground states, where early in-person votes had favored Trump. But an unprecedented number of mail ballots — which Trump had portrayed as fraudulent and urged his supporters not to use — favored Biden, allowing him to overcome deficits in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Trump has challenged those results, through lawsuits in those critical states and in a statement from the White House Thursday evening, in which he cast aspersions on the vote-counting process without citing any specific evidence for his claims.
“This election is not over,” the Trump campaign legal counsel, Matt Morgan, said in a statement after Pennsylvania’s updated vote totals gave Biden a lead on Friday morning.
Responding to reports that Trump may not concede once the race is called, a Biden spokesman said in a statement Friday: “As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Biden made a short public statement late Friday in Delaware, urging patience with the vote-counting process and expressing confidence that he would ultimately be declared the winner.
“The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” Biden said.
Even with the presidential result appearing to be clear, there remain ballots that were received by Election Day to be counted in a number of states. As in every election, states will still be receiving ballots from overseas and military voters, and will need to certify their initial vote totals.
And in Georgia, where Biden also pulled ahead overnight, a recount is expected due to the very narrow margin between the candidates.
What’s happening in Wisconsin?
The Trump campaign has threatened a recount in Wisconsin, after the state was called for Biden, who finished ahead of Trump by about 20,000 votes. Even former Republican Gov. Scott Walker has said the 20,000 vote margin would be too hard to overcome in a recount. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos echoed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud involving absentee ballots, calling on Friday for an investigation by the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and its chair, Representative Ron Tusler (R-Harrison).
“I am directing the committee to use its investigatory powers under Wisconsin SS 13.31 to immediately review how the election was administered,” Vos stated. “With concerns surfacing about mail-in ballot dumps and voter fraud, Wisconsin citizens deserve to know their vote counted. There should be no question as to whether the vote was fair and legitimate, and there must be absolute certainty that the impending recount finds any and all irregularities.”
Still, Vos added, “Wisconsin’s election system is one of the best in the country. We have well-trained staff that finished counting the ballots well before most other states. However, we can always look for ways to improve it even more. I hope the committee investigates the inefficiency of Milwaukee’s central counting of absentee ballots, as well as the removal of voters from the rolls who no longer live here.”
Democrats on the campaigns and elections committee immediately rejected Vos’ claim that Wisconsin’s election process needs to be investigated.
“This is a ridiculous attempt to cast doubt on the results of the November 2020 Presidential Election in Wisconsin, and we reject it outright,” committee members Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D – Milwaukee) Rep. Lisa Subeck (D – Madison) and Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D – Beloit) said in a statement issued on Friday evening. “It is irresponsible, unnecessary, and unfounded. While members of President Trump’s campaign actively engage in attempts to undermine state elections elsewhere, the Speaker is joining his party’s desperate attempts to deny the will of the people by manufacturing controversy here in Wisconsin.”
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission has reported no irregularities with regard to the administration of this election,” the committee members added. “There is no reason to doubt the results provided by our hard-working clerks. We are grateful for all the poll workers and National Guard members who worked tirelessly to ensure that every voter was able to make their voice heard.”
Where do the vote totals stand in Pennsylvania?
As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Pennsylvania’s state election data showed Biden with a lead of 28,393 votes. That narrow lead had been growing since Friday morning, when Biden pulled ahead after trailing Trump in Pennsylvania’s early vote totals.
The tsunami of mail ballots from more than 2.6 million Pennsylvania voters favored Biden 3 to 1, allowing him a deficit of nearly 700,000 votes late on election night.
The volume of those ballots in a state that had massively expanded access to mail balloting just last fall, combined with rules preventing county officials from starting to open those ballots until Tuesday morning, resulted in a slow counting process.
Legal action from the Trump campaign also slowed down Philadelphia’s counting process. A judge ruled in favor of the campaign’s request for closer access to observe the city’s ballot counting, leading to a two-hour pause Thursday and a shift to only use the equipment where observers could watch, the Inquirer reported.
Philadelphia officials said Friday afternoon they still had 40,000 ballots to tally, estimating it could take several days to finish, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. State data showed 76,000 mail ballots left to tally Saturday morning.
The Trump campaign did win a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court Friday evening, when Justice Samuel Alito approved a request from Republicans to require late-arriving mail ballots be segregated from the state’s tallying. But the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported that state officials already had requested county election officials to do so.
Will Biden’s new lead in Georgia hold?
Pennsylvania wasn’t the only state where Biden came from behind on Friday: He also had notched a slim lead in Georgia, which had grown to 7,200 votes as of Saturday morning, according to the Georgia Recorder. Mail ballots there had been steadily reducing Trump’s lead in what has been a Republican stronghold, and updated tallies from suburban Clayton County pushed him into the lead.
But it may not be clear for weeks who has secured the state’s 16 electoral votes. Georgia’s secretary of state told reporters Friday there will be a recount.
What about Arizona?
Biden has a shrinking lead in Arizona, where he was ahead of Trump by 20,573 votes Saturday morning. That’s down from a lead of 68,000 votes as of Thursday morning, according to the Arizona Mirror.
Arizona also was still sifting through stacks of mail ballots at the end of the week. As of Friday morning, Maricopa County had about 140,000 early ballots left to count, plus nearly 6,000 early ballots that required signature verification, and another 16,000 provisional ballots.
Nevada called for Biden
AP has also called the race in Nevada for Biden, giving him six more electoral votes. The president-elect was leading there by 25,699 votes as of Saturday morning.
Most of the ballots left to count were in Clark County, Nevada’s most populous county and also its bluest county. Biden’s lead has steadily grown as the Clark County votes have been counted, the Nevada Current reports.
Ruth Conniff contributed reporting from Wisconsin.
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