President-elect Joe Biden
REUTERS: President-elect Joe Biden cemented his US electoral victory by capturing the battleground state of Arizona late on Thursday, but the official transition to his administration remains stalled as President Donald Trump refuses to accept defeat.
Biden was projected to win Arizona after more than a week of vote counting from the 3 November election, Edison Research said. He becomes only the second Democratic presidential candidate in seven decades to win the traditionally Republican state.
Biden’s win in Arizona gives him 290 electoral votes in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner.
Biden had already cleared the 270 vote threshold to win the election, setting him on course to be sworn in on 20 January. Arizona’s 11 additional electoral votes put any longshot challenge by Trump even further out of reach.
Biden also holds a lead of more than 14,000 votes in the uncalled state of Georgia, nearly certain to survive a manual recount.
Nationally, Biden is winning the popular vote by more than 5.3 million votes, or 3.4 percentage points.
Trump, a Republican, has claimed without evidence that he was cheated by widespread election fraud, but his legal challenges have failed in Court and State election officials report no serious irregularities.
In order to stay in office for a second term, Trump would need to overturn Biden’s lead in at least three states, having failed to find evidence that could do so in any of them. States face an 8 December “safe harbour” deadline to certify their elections and choose electors for the Electoral College, which will officially select the new president on 14 December.
Trump’s refusal to accept defeat has stalled the process of transitioning to a new administration. The federal agency that releases funding to an incoming president-elect, the General Services Administration, has not yet recognised Biden’s victory.
Biden’s pick for White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, told MSNBC on Thursday that starting the transition is particularly crucial now, as the Biden administration will inherit a coronavirus vaccination campaign as soon as he takes office.
“The sooner we can get our transition experts into meetings with the folks who are planning a vaccination campaign, the more seamless the transition to a Biden presidency from a Trump presidency can be,” Klain said.
Regardless of the impediments, Biden will sign a “stack” of executive orders and send high-priority legislation to Congress his first day in office, Klain said.
“He is going to have a very, very busy Day One,” Klain said, citing a return to Paris accord on climate change, immigration reform, strengthening the “Obamacare” healthcare law and environmental protection as issues Biden would address on 20 January.