Joe Biden has won the race to become the next US president, defeating Donald Trump following a cliffhanger vote count after Tuesday’s election.
The BBC projected that Biden had won the key battleground of Pennsylvania, propelling him over the 270 electoral college vote threshold required to clinch the White House.
However, the Trump campaign has indicated that their candidate did not plan to concede.
The result makes Trump the first one-term president since the 1990s.
The BBC’s projection of Biden’s victory was based on the unofficial results from states that had already finished counting their votes, and the expected results from states like Wisconsin, where the count was continuing.
The election has seen the highest turnout since 1900. Biden has won more than 73 million votes so far, the most in history for a US presidential candidate. Trump has drawn almost 70 million, the second-highest tally in history.
Trump had falsely declared himself the winner of the election when vote counting was unfinished. He has since alleged irregularities in counting, but has not presented any evidence of election fraud.
His campaign has filed a barrage of lawsuits in various states and, earlier on Friday, as Biden appeared to be on the cusp of victory, said: “This election is not over.”
The election was fought as Covid-19 coronavirus cases and deaths continued to rise across the US, with Trump arguing a Biden presidency would result in lockdowns and economic gloom.
Biden accused the president of failing to impose sufficient measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Biden is now set to return to the White House, where he served for eight years as former president Barack Obama’s vice-president.
At the age of 78, he will be the oldest president in American history, a record previously held by the man he has now defeated, Trump, who is 74.
Biden’s victory after four days of painstaking vote-counting is the denouement of an extraordinary campaign, conducted during a devastating pandemic and widespread social unrest, and against the most unconventional of incumbents.
In his third try for the presidency, Biden found a way to navigate the political obstacles and claim a win that, while perhaps narrow in the electoral college tally, is projected to surpass Trump’s overall national total by at least 4 million votes.
Biden brings with him the first woman vice-president, whose multiethnic heritage carries with it numerous other firsts.
Biden can now begin the arduous task of planning the transition to his new administration.
He will have just under three months to assemble a Cabinet, determine policy priorities and prepare to govern a nation facing numerous crises and one that is also sharply divided along partisan lines.
Biden has been dreaming of the White House for most of his 50 years in the public arena. With this prize of a lifetime, however, come the challenges of a lifetime.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Usually the losing candidate concedes, but Trump has vowed to contest the election results on several fronts.
Responding to the Pennsylvania results, his campaign put out a statement saying: “This election is not over. The false projection of Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final.”
A recount will be held in Georgia, where the margins are tight, and Trump wants the same in Wisconsin. He has also vowed to take his false allegations of voter fraud to the Supreme Court.
If the election result is challenged, it would require legal teams to challenge this in the state courts.
State judges would then need to uphold the challenge and order a recount, and Supreme Court justices could then be asked to overturn a ruling.
Meanwhile, votes in some states are continuing to be counted and results are not official until final certification, which occurs in each state in the weeks following the election.
This must be done before 538 chosen officials (electors) from the Electoral College – which officially decides who wins the election – meet in their state capitals to vote on December 14.
The electors’ votes usually mirror the popular vote in each state. However, in some states, this is not a formal requirement.
The new president is officially sworn into office on January 20 after a transition period to give him/her time to appoint Cabinet ministers and cement various plans.
The handover of power at the inauguration ceremony is held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, DC.
After the ceremony, the new president makes his/her way to the White House to begin their four-year term in office. –BBC