President-elect Joe Biden addressed a deeply divided America after a historic election Saturday night, choosing to focus on the challenges that lie ahead by grounding his victory speech in the spirit of compromise and calling on all Americans to unite.
Addressing the nation from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the 46th US President said he was deeply humbled by the trust Americans had put in him and extended an olive branch to those who did not.
“I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” he said. “This is the time to heal in America.”
Biden’s speech came roughly eight hours after he was declared winner of the US election, thanks in large part to suburban voters who helped him deny Donald Trump four more years in the White House. He won both the popular vote and the Electoral College, and is the first presidential candidate in history to surpass 74 million votes.
The coronavirus crisis made voting by mail the go-to option for some 65 million Americans, close to half of those who voted. The mail-in ballot surge, tracked by the U.S. Elections Project, also overwhelmed election workers in many states with the slow pace of counting keeping the whole world on edge for days.
But Saturday’s election verdict isn’t the last step in selecting the next president.
Americans who went to the polls on Election Day don’t actually select the President directly. Under a system that’s been tweaked over the last two hundred years, there’s still a weeks-long timeline during which the 538-member Electoral College will pick the president.
Once selected, the new president will take the oath of office at noon on January 20th. If a President-elect dies between Election Day and the inauguration, the vice president-elect takes the oath of office and becomes President.
In a disputed election, like this one looks as though it’s going to be, if the House has not chosen a President but the Senate has chosen a vice president, the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House makes a final decision.