Joe Biden was once again declared the winner of the presidential election on Monday after members of the Electoral College gathered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their ballots.
It's a constitutionally mandated ritual that's typically no more than a curious afterthought following a presidential election, but the ceremonial vote took on newfound significance this year as President Donald Trump and his GOP allies made unprecedented efforts to subvert the popular will of the voters and overturn Biden's November victory.
The vote finally shook loose statements acknowledging Biden's win from previously reluctant Republicans, but Republican-appointed electors in several states gathered to hold symbolic votes for Trump -- while a retiring Republican congressman announcing he was leaving the party over his colleagues' unwillingness to move on, reports CNN.
The voting kicked off shortly after 10 a.m. ET, with Vermont's three electors casting the first votes for Biden. All of the votes went as expected -- no states had any so-called "faithless electors" break from the popular vote. And all the battleground states that Trump has sought to overturn -- Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin -- cast their electoral votes for Biden. California's 55 electors put Biden over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become president shortly after 5 p.m. ET.
The Electoral College votes will next be sent to Congress to be counted formally next month. A group of House Republicans have vowed to object to the results in the key states, but they can do little more than delay the process and force a prolonged debate during the joint session of Congress, scheduled for January 6, when the vote is finalized.
Trump has continued to spread false claims of widespread fraud despite courts in all of the battleground states rejecting his campaign's challenges to the election.
The Supreme Court dealt the final blow against his efforts to overturn the election result late Friday, dismissing a case brought by the Texas attorney general that sought to disenfranchise millions of voters in four states.
Wisconsin's Supreme Court denied yet another challenge from Trump's campaign on Monday, just before the state's electors were scheduled to meet and cast their votes for Biden.
Biden spoke Monday evening in praise of the state and local officials who "could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true." He charged that the Republican efforts to overturn the result represented an "unprecedented assault on our democracy," while noting that "every single avenue was made available to President Trump to contest the results."
"Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy, even if we find those results hard to accept," Biden said. "We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And now it's time to turn the page as we've done throughout our history, to unite to heal."