WASHINGTON – President Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 presidential election Friday in a special joint session of Congress, closing the book on the tumultuous and expensive campaign.
Vice President Joe Biden, as president of the Senate, presided over the counting of Electoral College votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the sparsely attended session. The count lacked the historic flavor of 2009, when Obama became the first black president, or the controversies of 2001 and 2005, when some lawmakers protested contested votes in Florida and Ohio, respectively.
Newly reappointed Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada sat together as Biden announced the results.
As expected, the Obama-Biden ticket received 332 votes for president and vice president, well in excess of the 270 needed to win. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., received 206 votes. There were no “faithless electors,” or members of the Electoral College who cast votes for a different candidate than the one who had won in his or her state.
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Friday’s ceremony closed a process that chooses the president and vice president. It began when polls closed across the country on Election Day. On Dec. 17, the 538 electors met in state capitals to cast votes based on the state results, and those tallies were then read Friday in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
It was only Friday that all 50 states plus the District of Columbia produced certified vote counts, according to Dave Wasserman, of the Cook Political Report, who tracked the raw vote. After Hawaii became the final state to produce a certified tally, the national popular vote stood at 65,899,557 votes (51.06 percent) for Obama and 60,931,959 votes (47.21 percent) for Romney. Obama is the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win back-to-back presidential elections with more than 51 percent of the popular vote.
In the past 200 years, 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to change or eliminate the Electoral College, according to the National Archives.
Obama and Biden will be sworn in for their new terms Jan. 20 in a private White House ceremony, with a public ceremonial swearing-in on Jan. 21 at the U.S. Capitol. The Constitution requires that the inauguration take place Jan. 20, but because that is a Sunday, the public session and the accompanying parade and festivities will occur Monday. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the presidential oath to Obama. In a first for a Latina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor will swear in Biden.
Material from The New York Times and The Associated Press is included in this report.