Electors began across the United States began voting on Monday to formally elect Joe Biden as the next president and Kamala Harris as the vice president in an election clouded in controversy.

The Supreme Court refusing to hear a last-minute appeal on Friday by Republicans against the conduct of the elections in some of the states and the states formally announcing the results paved the way for the electoral college voting today.

President Donald Trump’s objections to the election results will become moot after this vote by the 538 members of the electoral college elected in the presidential election was held on November 3 to formalise Biden’s election.

Biden and Harris are assured of a victory with their 306 electors, including former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York, while Trump has only 232.

Even if some electors switch sides as allowed by some of the states – they are referred to as “faithless electors” — the election of Biden and Harris is assured.

Harris will smash through several glass ceilings, becoming the first woman and the first Indian American to be declared vice president-elect.

The electoral college does not meet together in one place, but in state capitals from the Atlantic coast to Hawaii far away on the Pacific Ocean, and having started at 10 am Washington time (8:30 pm Monday). Hawaii will vote at 7 pm Washington time (5:30 am Tuesday IST). The electors will vote with paper ballots.

Heavy security blanketed some of the state legislature buildings because of the threat from protesters.

On Saturday, four supporters of Trump were stabbed in Washington where rival demonstrations were held by backers of Trump and Biden.

Biden is scheduled to give his acceptance speech at 8 pm (6:30 am Tuesday IST).

Under legal requirements, the state officials will send their results to Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the local chief judge and the nation’s Archivist David Ferreiro, who will make them officially available to the public.

The next state is a meeting of the newly elected Congress on January 6 to formally count the electoral votes and certify the election.

At this stage members of Congress can object to the election result – as some Democrats 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 Biden’s election.

Till last week when the states completed the formality of counting and declaring the election results, the announcement of Biden’s victory was by media based on their projections and not official or legally binding.

While the electoral college vote finalises the election, Trump and his supporters will continue to question its legitimacy as a payback for the Democrats attempts to delegitimising Trump’s 2016 election by claiming collusion between him and Russia, even though an inquiry found no such nexus.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

–IANS

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