The Latest: Biden says election workers showed courage

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Gretchen Whitmer

In this photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a news conference in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. Whitmer, whose health department has prohibited indoor restaurant dining and closed various entertainment venues to limit the spread of the virus, announced that those businesses can postpone by a month their monthly sales, use and tax withholding payments that are due Dec. 20. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Electoral College meeting (all times local):

Electors gathered in 50 states and the District of Columbia on Monday to formally affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

FINAL TALLY OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES:

Democrat Joe Biden: 306

Republican Donald Trump: 232

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7:55 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says local election officials and workers endured threats of violence and verbal abuse while ensuring that democracy prevailed in the November election.

In a speech Monday after the Electoral College affirmed his victory, Biden said that the threats were “simply unconscionable” but that the workers showed courage and commitment to free and fair elections in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said President Donald Trump’s lawyers brought “dozens and dozens and dozens” of legal challenges of the election results, but each time they were found to be without merit.

Biden says Trump’s team repeatedly made arguments to state legislatures, officials and even the U.S. Supreme Court, “and in every case no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results.”

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7:45 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says his Electoral College victory of the same magnitude as President Donald Trump’s in 2016 is a signal that the current president should finally accept his own defeat in this year’s election.

Biden noted during a speech Monday in Wilmington, Delaware, that Trump called his 2016 tally of 306 electoral votes a “landslide.”

Biden says if that constituted a clear victory then, he wanted to “respectfully suggest” that Trump now accept Biden’s victory this year.

Trump has refused to concede defeat in the presidential vote, making repeated and unfounded allegations of widespread fraud.

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7:10 p.m.

The Electoral College has finished voting to solidify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

With Hawaii reporting their electoral vote Monday, Biden has 306 to President Donald Trump’s 232 votes. The threshold to win is 270.

It’s normally a procedural step, but its importance was heightened this year because Trump has refused to concede his loss. He and his allies have filed roughly 50 lawsuits and most have been dropped or dismissed by judges, including twice by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Electoral College results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.

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6:50 p.m.

One of President Donald Trump’s closest congressional allies says he’s talked with President-elect Joe Biden and will “be helpful where I can.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that he recently had a “pleasant” 10-minute conversation with Biden and has spoken to some of the Democrat’s picks to lead his administration.

The South Carolina Republican says he expects Trump to let continuing legal challenges over the presidential election results “play out,” saying he saw a “very, very narrow path” for Trump to achieve a second term.

Graham also said that he would support a waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as defense secretary and that Janet Yellen “would be fine” to lead the Treasury Department.

Asked about Sally Yates, mentioned for a possible attorney general pick, Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I don’t think so.” He responded favorably when asked about two other possible nominees, outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and one-time U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

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6:30 p.m.

Two more top Republican senators are acknowledging that Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential election.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said “yeah” on Monday when reporters at the Capitol asked if Biden was now president-elect. And Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt flatly says, “Vice President Biden is the president-elect.”

Blunt is a member of the Senate GOP leadership. Graham is a close friend and strong supporter of President Donald Trump.

Both men spoke the day the Electoral College formally awarded Biden the electoral votes needed to become president. The day marked a turning point for many GOP senators, who until now have declined to contest Trump’s fallacious claims that he won the election and was cheated out of a victory by fraud.

Trump has produced no evidence of that, and federal and state courts around the country have tossed cases his legal team has put forward.

Graham says, “It’s a very, very narrow path for the president. I don’t see how he gets there from here.”

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6:15 p.m.

Hawaii is the last state to cast their Electoral College ballots. Once it does, Democrat Joe Biden will reach his final total of 306 electoral votes.

Hawaii’s electors are meeting at 2 p.m. Hawaii time, which is 7 p.m. on the East Coast. The state has four electoral votes.

Hawaii favored the Biden ticket by wide margins in the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump won 232 electoral votes. short of the 270-vote threshold to win the Electoral College and the White House.

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6 p.m.

A Republican senator from Indiana is acknowledging that Democrat Joe Biden is president-elect, now that the Electoral College has formally affirmed his victory.

Nearly five weeks after Election Day, Sen. Mike Braun is among several GOP lawmakers who are now conceding that Biden is the incoming president.

Until now, many Republican lawmakers have refused to contest President Donald Trump’s false insistence that voter fraud is the reason he didn’t win the election. Trump has presented no evidence of that, and his arguments have been rejected by state and federal courts and by state officials of both parties.

Braun says in a written statement that the Electoral College vote marks “a watershed moment where we must put aside politics and respect the constitutional process.”

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5:45 p.m.

California has cast the state’s 55 electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden, formally cementing the Democrat’s victory over President Donald Trump.

Biden carried the heavily Democratic state in a landslide last month, defeating Trump by over 5 million votes.

California — the nation’s most populous state with 40 million people — is the largest prize in the presidential election and offers the most electoral votes. Its votes put Biden over the 270-vote threshold on Monday to win the Electoral College and the White House.

The California vote was taken in a subdued ceremony in the ornate state Assembly chamber in Sacramento, where electors wore face masks and were socially distanced at separate desks for safety because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Small but noisy pro-Trump protests have been staged in Sacramento since the election, but the fenced statehouse grounds were quiet Monday. Police vehicles were parked outside several entrances.

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5:25 p.m.

The Electoral College has formally validated Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Biden cleared the 270-vote threshold on Monday after California’s electors cast their votes for the Democrat. When all of the states finish voting, Biden is expected to lead President Donald Trump 306-232.

The Electoral College vote is normally a procedural step in the presidential election, but its importance is heightened this year because Trump is refusing to concede his loss. He and his allies have filed roughly 50 lawsuits, and most have been dropped or dismissed by judges, including twice by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Electoral College results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.

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5:20 p.m.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican leader says it’s time to declare Democrat Joe Biden the president-elect.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune spoke to reporters in the Capitol on Monday shortly before the Electoral College formally affirmed that Biden had won the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.

Thune says, “That’s how in this country we decide presidential elections. That’s our Constitution. And I believe we follow the Constitution.”

President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election, falsely claiming widespread voter fraud. He has offered no evidence backing that up, and he’s lost numerous attempts to invalidate the voting in state and federal courts, including twice in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Even so, many GOP lawmakers have backed Trump’s attempts to ignore the voters’ verdict.

Thune also says a last-ditch attempt by a few Republicans to challenge Biden’s electoral win in the House next month is “going nowhere.”

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5:10 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, a retiring Republican from Michigan, says he is disaffiliating from the GOP and becoming an independent for the rest of his term.

His decision was announced on Monday as members of the Electoral College were meeting around the country to formally verify the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Democrat Joe Biden flipped Michigan on his way to winning the White House, but President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are fighting the results as they try to subvert the will of the voters.

In a letter to Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Mitchell wrote, “It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.”

He also said it was unacceptable for Trump to have attacked the Supreme Court for rejecting his team’s lawsuit and for party leaders and the House Republican Conference to participate in Trump’s efforts to get the election results overturned based on conspiracy theories.

Mitchell says he voted for Trump.

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4:55 p.m.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn says Joe Biden seems on his way to becoming the next president.

The Texas senator told reporters at the Capitol on Monday that he considers the Democrat “the president-elect, subject to whatever additional litigation is ongoing” by President Donald Trump to try overturning the election.

Cornyn says he expects “a turning of the page on Jan. 20, when you’ll have a peaceful transition.” And he says, “There comes a time when you have to realize that despite your best efforts, you’ve been unsuccessful.”

Cornyn’s comments put him in the camp of a small but growing number of Republican lawmakers who are acknowledging — or coming close to it — that Biden was elected president. Trump has refused to concede and is falsely alleging widespread voter fraud, though he’s provided no evidence of that and lost dozens of court cases.

Cornyn spoke as members of the Electoral College were meeting around the country to formally verify the election results. Based on the voting, Biden beat Trump in the Electoral College by 306-232 and won by 7 million votes.

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4:05 p.m.

In a prime-time speech after the Electoral College vote, President-elect Joe Biden is set to declare that “not even … an abuse of power” can stop a peaceful transition of power in the U.S. after last month’s election.

That’s an overt swipe at President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat and the top Republicans who have continued to stand by him.

Biden is set to speak Monday night after the Electoral College formally votes to declare him president.

According to excerpts released ahead of time by his campaign, Biden plans to call for unity and again express his intentions to be a president for everyone, regardless of whether they voted for him. But he also will say that “In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant it to them.”

“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago,” Biden is set to say. “And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic —or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”

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3 p.m.

Michigan’s electors have cast their 16 votes for President-elect Joe Biden, who reclaimed the battleground state for Democrats on his way to winning the White House.

The vote was announced by Democratic Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, who presided over a scaled-back, socially distanced Electoral College ceremony inside the Michigan Senate.

The Capitol was closed to the public because of coronavirus restrictions. Lawmakers also closed their offices because of threats of violence. Electors and some top Democrats were escorted into the statehouse by state police.

Citing baseless allegations of widespread fraud, President Donald Trump and his allies had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Biden’s 154,000 vote, or 2.8 percentage point, victory and pushed the Republican-led Legislature to choose electors. But the legally suspect, long-shot bid was rejected by the court and by Republican legislative leaders who pointed to state law in saying that the electoral votes go to the popular vote winner.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says, “The people have spoken.”

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2:55 p.m.

Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes have been cast for President Donald Trump.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee conducted the vote Monday after three electors were named to replace three who couldn’t attend the ceremony, including Senate President Wilton Simpson. Simpson announced hours before the vote that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump won Florida with 51.2% of the vote in last month’s election. He also carried Florida in 2016.

Florida’s electors are submitted to the governor by each political party. Electors take an oath to support the candidate that wins the state’s popular vote.

Despite losing Florida, Democrat Joe Biden managed to flip three Rust Belt states and carry Arizona and Georgia on his way to winning the election.

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1:45 p.m.

Wisconsin has cast its 10 Electoral College votes for Democrat Joe Biden.

It came about an hour after the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit from President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the election results.

For Democrats, the Electoral College vote signaled the end of a long fight to win back the state Trump carried in 2016.

“We made it,” said Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, one of the state’s electors, after the vote was announced.

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1:15 p.m.

Some Republicans who refuse to acknowledge the reality of President-elect Joe Biden’s win are meeting to cast ceremonial votes for President Donald Trump.

On the day the Electoral College is set to formally confirm Biden’s victory, Trump loyalists in Pennsylvania met in Harrisburg and cast what they described as a “conditional vote” for Trump. The state Republican Party says the Trump electors met at the request of the campaign.

In Georgia, another battleground state Trump lost, an alternate Republican slate cast ceremonial votes for Trump at the same time Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes were cast for Biden.

The opposition to Biden has no practical effect on the electoral process, with the Democrat set to be sworn in on Jan. 20.

The Electoral College vote is normally a fairly procedural step in the presidential election, but its importance is heightened this year because Trump is refusing to concede his loss. He and his allies have filed roughly 50 lawsuits and most have been dropped or dismissed by judges, including twice by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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1:10 p.m.

Ohio’s electors have cast their 18 votes for President Donald Trump.

Trump won the state’s vote in November by more than 8 percentage points. It was the first time in 60 years that the state’s voters did not side with the ultimate winner.

The result was announced shortly after roll call was taken at an in-person Electoral College session at the Ohio Statehouse on Monday.

Republican delegates all wore masks, socially distanced and used specially provided pens due to the coronavirus.

Among the Ohio electors was Ken Blackwell, a Trump loyalist and former Ohio secretary of state who presided over the contentious Bush-Kerry contest of 2004; Bob Paduchik, an Ohioan who served as senior adviser to Trump’s reeelection campaign; and Lucas County GOP Chair Mark Wagoner, whose father was the first to die of COVID-19 in the state.

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12:50 p.m.

Pennsylvania has cast its 20 electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden, the native son whose win in the state last month cemented his overall victory against President Donald Trump.

The 20 electors were socially distanced in a cavernous auditorium near the Capitol, meeting there instead of the floor of the state House because of the pandemic.

One by one, each elector walked up to the auditorium stage and dropped his or her ballot into a box designed by Benjamin Franklin. The electors gave the vote tally a standing ovation.

Nancy Mills, president of the state’s Electoral College, noted it was Pennsylvania that put Biden over the 270-vote threshold needed to claim the White House.

She says, “We are the state that returned the dignity and honor to the United States of America.”

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New York has awarded its 29 Electoral College votes to Democrat Joe Biden.

The ceremony took place in the state Capitol despite the coronavirus pandemic. Electors included former President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The vote took about half an hour and finished without any surprises. Electors sat in separate rows behind invisible plastic dividers, and all wore masks as they cast their votes one by one.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the pandemic serves as a “stark reminder to the nation that government matters and leadership matters.” He says good government ”can literally save people’s lives.”

Hillary Clinton says the Biden-Harris administration is “going to be great for the country.” She says, “We’re going to have a president and a vice president who are going to work for all the people and make a real difference for everybody.”

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12:45 p.m.

North Carolina has awarded its 15 electoral votes to President Donald Trump.

An energized base of supporters, vigorous in-person campaign schedule and appeal to rural voters fueled Trump’s 1.3 percentage point win over Democratic President-elect Joe Biden in the state.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden largely stayed off the physical campaign trail, instead choosing to do virtual events or smaller in-person gatherings with mask wearing and physical distancing. He did not personally visit the state in the last 16 days of the election.

Biden benefited from a surge in mail-in voting but fell short of a plurality of the more than 5.5 million ballots cast.

Trump defeated then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016 by 3.7 percentage points. Former President Barack Obama is the most recent Democratic presidential candidate to win North Carolina, which he did in 2008.

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12:40 p.m.

Arizona’s 11 Electoral College members have cast their votes for Democrat Joe Biden for president.

Biden won the Nov. 3 in Arizona by nearly 10,500 votes, becoming the first Democratic since President Bill Clinton in 1996 to carry the traditionally Republican state.

Fueled by President Donald Trump, some Arizona Republicans continue to question Biden’s victory in the state. Trump backers have filed multiple lawsuits trying to have the Arizona results set aside, but state and federal courts have rejected all but one of them.

Some are being appealed, and the remaining case has a hearing Monday.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs presided over the ceremony where the electors signed the certificates confirming Biden’s win. She had harsh words for the politicization of this year’s process, saying it had “an artificial shadow” hanging over it because of baseless accusations of voter fraud.

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12:35 p.m.

Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes have been cast for Democrat Joe Biden for president.

The state’s Democratic electors convened in the Senate chamber of the state Capitol on Monday.

The electors included former candidate for governor Stacey Abrams, congresswoman-elect Nikema Williams, several state lawmakers, local politicians and Democratic activists.

The group limited themselves to sitting in every other row, with an empty desk between each person. They all wore a face mask to protect against the coronavirus, and the audience was limited to a few members of the press and some support staff.

The electors each marked a paper ballot that was then collected, counted and confirmed by a voice roll call. Abrams then read out the results, saying, “I’m pleased to announce that Joseph R. Biden has received 16 votes for president of the United States,” to applause.

The vote formally seals Biden’s win in the battleground state, where he beat President Donald Trump by about 12,000 votes. The result of the November election was confirmed by two recounts, including an audit that triggered a full hand tally of ballots.

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12:15 p.m.

A Republican lawmaker from Michigan has been disciplined for not denouncing potential violence at the state Capitol before Democratic presidential electors are to meet to vote for Joe Biden, who won the state over President Donald Trump.

State Rep. Gary Eisen of St. Clair Township told WPHM-AM on Monday that he planned to help with an unspecified “Hail Mary” GOP plan to challenge the election, conceding the “uncharted” action likely would not change the result. Asked if he could guarantee people’s safety, he said “no.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth, both Republicans, removed Eisen from committees in the closing days of the two-year session. In a statement, they said threats or suggestions of violence in politics are never acceptable, including “when the public officials open the door to violent behavior and refuse to condemn it. We must do better.”

The 16 electors and top Democratic state officials such as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are scheduled to gather in the Senate chamber Monday afternoon. Legislative offices are closed because of threats of violence. The Capitol is closed to the public because of coronavirus restrictions.

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11:55 a.m.

Nevada’s six Democratic presidential electors have awarded their votes for Joe Biden, becoming the first slate of electors from a battleground state to cast their votes.

The ceremony on Monday took place over Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took less than 20 minutes and finished without any surprises.

Biden defeated Trump by 33,596 votes, or 2.4 percentage points, in Nevada. Although Democrats’ margin of victory was similar to the 2016 election, the state’s slow vote-counting pace and a result that appeared tight on Election Night vaulted the western battleground into the national spotlight.

Trump eyed the state as a pick-up opportunity, visiting three times in the lead-up to the election. Biden visited once for an event with Latino groups and a drive-in rally.

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11 a.m.

Electors from the first states have cast their votes.

Vermont’s three representatives to the Electoral College on Monday cast the state’s presidential ballots for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. In Tennessee, 11 representatives to the Electoral College cast their votes for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Four Electoral College votes from New Hampshire went to Biden, and 11 from Indiana went to Trump. Electors in other states also have begun voting.

Biden won the Nov. 3 election.

Electors are gathering in 50 states and the District of Columbia on Monday to formally vote for the next president. Most states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state.

The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Pence will preside.

The electors’ votes have drawn more attention than usual this year because Trump has refused to concede the election and continues to make unsupported allegations of fraud. There was no widespread fraud. This has been confirmed by election officials across the country and by Attorney General William Barr.

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9:40 a.m.

Michigan legislative offices are closed because of threats of violence as presidential electors prepare to gather in the state Capitol to cast their votes for Democrat Joe Biden.

The 16 electors will meet Monday afternoon in the Senate chamber, at a ceremony chaired by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Biden won the state by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points, over President Donald Trump.

The Capitol building is closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions except when lawmakers meet for a legislative session. A spokesperson for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says legislators’ offices in the statehouse and nearby buildings also are closed based on recommendations from law enforcement.

Spokeswoman Amber McCann says, “The decision was not made because of anticipated protests but was made based on credible threats of violence.”

Lawmakers from both parties have reported receiving threats amid Trump’s futile bid to overturn the election results with baseless allegations of widespread fraud.

There was no widespread fraud in the election. This has been confirmed by election officials across the country and by Attorney General William Barr.

Earlier this year, law enforcement said it uncovered a plot to kidnap Whitmer. The ringleader is alleged to have also discussed attacking the Michigan Capitol during session and executing “tyrants.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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