Presidential electors coast to coast in the US are casting the votes that will affirm Joe Biden as the nation’s next president, a formality that took on added importance this year because of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he lost his race for re-election.
Heightened security was in place in some states as electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the six battleground states that Mr Biden won and Mr Trump contested — gave the Democrat and vice president-elect Kamala Harris their votes in low-key proceedings.
Nevada’s electors met by video link because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Monday is the day set by law for the meeting of the Electoral College. Electors are casting paper ballots in gatherings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with masks, social distancing and other virus precautions in place.
The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a January 6 joint session of Congress presided over by vice president Mike Pence.
When all the votes are in, Mr Biden is expected to have 306 electoral votes to 232 for Mr Trump. It takes 270 to be elected.
In the popular vote count, Mr Biden topped the Republican by more than seven million votes nationwide.
Former Maryland state senator Gloria Lawlah, in a state Mr Biden won easily, said the votes for the Democratic ticket were “a repudiation of hate, a repudiation of divisiveness. It’s an affirmation of benevolence, an affirmation of unity”.
But not all Republicans were willing to say the election was over, even with the casting of electoral votes. Mr Trump has refused to concede and continues to make unsupported allegations of fraud.
There have been concerns about safety for the electors, virtually unheard of in previous years. In Michigan, legislators from both parties reported receiving threats.
Legislative offices there were closed on Monday over threats of violence. The 16 electors were to meet in the Senate chamber in a ceremony headed by Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Mr Biden won the state by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points.
Georgia state police were out in force at the state capitol in Atlanta before Democratic electors pledged to Mr Biden met.
Even with the Electoral College’s confirmation of Mr Biden’s victory, some Republicans continued to refuse to acknowledge that reality, but their opposition to Mr Biden had no practical effect on the electoral process, with the Democrat to be sworn in on January 20.