Balloons and signs fill the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Forty-eight years to the day after first being elected to the federal government, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States on Saturday amid a grueling, five-day vote count.
Electoral College votes had been locked for days between Biden and President Donald Trump. After CNN, NBC News and The New York Times called Pennsylvania in Biden's favor, he surpassed the threshold to secure the presidency.
After calling Nevada in Biden's favor later in the day, the electoral count grew to 279-213.
Biden also leads in the popular vote, with 50.5% of the votes to Trump's 47.7%.
With his victory, Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be elected vice president. She's also the first Black and Asian American person to serve as second in command.
Biden and Harris were expected to address the country at 8 p.m. EST Saturday.
"I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris," Biden said in a statement.
"In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, the democracy beats deep in the heart of America.
"With the campaign over, it's time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It's time for America to united. And to heal.
"We are the United States of America. And there's nothing we can't do, if we do it together."
Harris said the election is about more than her or Biden.
"It's about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let's get started," she said.
Trump has lodged a number of legal challenges to the vote-counting process in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, seeking to stop the count and making allegations of corruption in the elections process. His campaign has yet to provide substantial evidence of fraud.
The president has repeatedly claimed victory in the race on social media and in remarks to reporters at the White House.
About an hour after the race was projected for Biden, Trump disputed the call, accusing the Democrat of "rushing to falsely pose as the winner."
"The simple fact is this election is far from over," Trump said.
He called for the campaigns to wait for results from any potential recounts and the outcomes of his legal challenges.
The race for days had hinged on a handful of states that remained too close to call up through Saturday morning. Several states were still undecided Saturday afternoon -- Alaska (which has 3 electoral votes), Arizona (11), Georgia (16) and North Carolina (15). One elector also has yet to be decided in Maine.
Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes put Biden over the edge to win the presidency.
With 98% of the vote counted in Pennsylvania midday Saturday, Biden had a 34,414-vote lead over Trump.
Biden has 3,345,724 votes (49.6%) to Trump's 3,311,210 (49.1%).
With the addition of about 3,000 votes reported around 11:30 a.m. EST, CNN called Pennsylvania for Biden and projected the Democrat as the winner of the presidential race.
Tens of thousands of ballots in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties had delayed the vote-counting process.
In Philadelphia County, poll workers were counting what they described as "problem child ballots," those that have issues such as incorrectly placed signatures, or wrong or missing dates, according to CNN.
In Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, officials were reviewing a batch of incorrect ballots sent to residents. Elections officials sent a new, corrected ballot to those same residents, but now they're evaluating whether those voters submitted the incorrect one, the correct one, both or voted in person.
Officials there said they'd release the results of some 20,000 votes in batches throughout the day Saturday.
Meanwhile in Georgia, Biden's lead grew to 7,248 votes as of Saturday morning with 99% of the vote counted. The Democrat had 2,461,455 votes (49.4%) to Trump's 2,454,207 (49.3%).
Elections officials said a recount is all but certain in the state, which forces the process if the difference between the candidates is 0.5% or less.
There were about 12,000 provisional ballots being evaluated as well as some 8,000 military and overseas ballots.
In Arizona, Biden lead hovered around 30,000 votes with 95% of the votes counted.
The former vice president had 1,604,067 votes (49.6%) to Trump's 1,574,206 votes (48.6%).
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said there are about 173,000 votes outstanding in the state, about one-third of which were provisional.
Alaska is leaning heavily in favor of Trump, with 62.9% of the votes for the president and 33% for Biden. Since only about 47% of the vote has been counted, though, the race has yet to be called.
A young Sen. Joe Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, is seen in this undated photo at a press conference in Washington, D.C. His political career began in 1970, when he was elected to the New Castle County Council in Delaware at age 26. UPI File Photo | License Photo