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HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s 20 presidential electors officially cast their ballots for Democrat Joe Biden Monday, certifying the president-elect’s November win even as the outgoing president continues to falsely claim victory.
Normally a formality in the lead-up to Inauguration Day, the meeting of the 538 electors in all 50 states has received far greater attention than usual as President Donald Trump–who lost to Biden in Pennsylvania by 80,555 votes–continues to deny the results of November’s election and urge his fellow Republicans and courts to overturn it.
In Pennsylvania, several conservative state Republicans were in favor of taking such measures by ignoring the popular vote and appointing their own slate of pro-Trump electors, but the idea was shot down by GOP leadership.
To make room for social distancing, officials moved the event from its usual location in the chambers of the state House of Representatives to the 1,600-seat Forum Auditorium nearby.
Gov. Tom Wolf, still under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, did not attend.
The slate of electors–selected by Biden–included current and former state and local elected officials, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Democratic party leaders. They each cast their ballots for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and signed certificates, which are sent to the president of the U.S. Senate–Vice President Mike Pence–the Pennsylvania secretary of state, the national archivist and the presiding federal district judge in Harrisburg.
“Your participation today in this electoral college proves once again the durability of our Constitution and the majesty of our democracy,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, referencing a 1992 concession speech from former President George H.W. Bush.
The meeting Monday went off largely without a hitch, despite some heightened concerns for protests. A handful of protesters carrying Trump flags gathered at the Capitol in the snow and rain as electors met.
The meeting came as coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania have soared, prompting Wolf to reinstate temporary business closures, suspend indoor dining and impose limits on gatherings.
Citing the pandemic, a spokesperson for Boockvar said the Electoral College meeting was limited to five media representatives. Everyone was required to wear a mask and have their temperatures taken. The meeting itself was live-streamed and lasted about an hour.
The spokesperson, Wanda Murren, also said she could not discuss any security measures taken to protect the electors. A spokesperson for elector Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County board of commissioners, said electors were asked not to share logistical details about the meeting ahead of time.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair Nancy Mills invoked in her remarks the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which prevented the denial of the vote on account of sex, and her status as the first woman to be the presiding officer of the state’s electoral college.
“As a woman I could not imagine a more historical moment for me as well as all the women who have come before me,” said Mills, who also cited the election of the first woman vice president, Harris.
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