By Arul Louis
New York– Kamala Harris made history as the first Indian-American and the first woman to be elected as the Vice President of the US after the Electoral College affirmed her victory and that of Joe Biden as President in the bitterly fought election for the nation’s leadership.
The Electoral College officially sealed their election on Monday giving voice to the 81 million voters who cast their ballots for the Democratic party team, while President Donald Trump continued to question the legality of the November 3 election asserting that there was widespread fraud.
After the Electoral College Biden completed its voting, Biden declared: “In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact.”
The way was cleared for the Electoral College to vote after the Supreme Court on December 11 rejected a lawsuit from Texas in a bid to overturn the election results in four battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court on Monday dismissed another case brought by Trump.
Those were the latest legal challenges to the election, especially in the so-called swing states where neither party has an established lead, that the Republicans and Trump had lost.
The members of the Electoral College met in state legislatures across the country at different times to vote and the final results, 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump, reflected the election’s outcome.
A peculiarity of the US is that certain media declare the election results before they are officially done, even while the counting still on, and politicians generally accept the verdict.
However, Trump had refused to accept the media reckoning but will now have to abide by the electoral college verdict with little recourse.
In the US political system, the presidential elections are held indirectly with the citizens voting for the 538 members of the Electoral College distributed among states based on their size.
These electors formally elect the President and Vice President in separate ballots.
Former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were among the electors in New York.
The next stage is a meeting of the newly elected Congress on January 6 to formally count the electoral votes and certify the election.
Members of Congress can object to the election result, as some Democrats did in 2016 questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s election because they claimed that he had won through Russian interference.
While objections from some Republicans to Biden’s election is expected, Congress is unlikely to sustain them as many Republicans in the Senate have said that they have accepted the former Vice President’s victory.
While Trump has not conceded the election to Biden and continues to challenge the results, he had already agreed to cooperate with Biden’s transition team dropping his earlier objections to providing it access to information and facilities for smoothly taking over from him on January 20.
He has also tacitly admitted defeat last month in a tweet, “he won because the election was rigged”, but quickly went back on it and resumed his challenges.
Trump’s bluster in continuing to question the Biden-Harris victory appears to be a payback for the Democrats campaign to delegitimise his victory in 2016 by claiming that he had won with Russian collaboration.
Now Biden denounced denounced Trump’s attempt to delegitimise the Democratic win, accusing him of taking a “position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honour our Constitution”.
A Gallup opinion poll found that 83 per cent of Republicans did not think that reports about Biden winning were “accurate”.
In the face of the massive distrust from the Republicans, Biden tried to appeal to them, saying: “Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history. To unite. To heal.
“As I said through this campaign, I will be a president for all Americans. I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me, as I will for those who did.”
Harris, whose mother Shyamala is from India and her father Donald Harris is a Jamaican of African descent, will also be the first African-American Vice President.
“I may be the first, but I will not be the last. It’s on those of us leading the way to leave the door more open than it was when we walked in,” she tweeted on Sunday about her string of firsts.
There have been two unsuccessful women candidates for Vice President — Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008.
The 78-year-old Biden will be the oldest person to become President and also the second Catholic after John F. Kennedy. (IANS)