Joe Biden's march to the White House—overshadowed by President Donald Trump's frantic attempts to overturn the US election—is to be formalized Monday when the Electoral College meets to confirm the Democrat's win.
Electors in all 50 states were meeting to cast their votes in a tradition that has long been considered mostly a formality for confirming the will of the people expressed at the polls.
But this year the somewhat arcane procedure is at the center of an unprecedented — and many warn dangerous — challenge to the credibility of US democracy led by Trump.
Soundly beaten by Biden on November 3, Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that he was the real winner. Court after court has turned down his team's claims of election fraud around the country and last Friday the Supreme Court dealt a final legal blow when it threw out an appeal lodged by Trump allies from Texas and other Republican-led states.
Based on the already legally certified state-by-state vote tallies, the Electoral College representatives are expected to vote by 306 to 232 in favor of Biden over Trump — a process expected to take much of Monday.
This will draw a thick line under a contest that saw Biden make Trump a rare one-term president after campaigning on a message of vanquishing the Covid-19 pandemic, healing bitter political division and restoring traditional US diplomacy on the world stage.
Biden, who has largely avoided responding to Trump's conspiracy theories, announced he would deliver an address in the evening dedicated to "the strength and resilience" of US democracy.
Until now, a majority of Republicans in Congress have either backed Trump's claims or at least turned a blind eye, with many refusing to call Biden the president-elect.
Disinformation spearheaded by the president and spread by popular commentators on Fox News and new conspiracy theory-mongering outlets like Newsmax means that many Americans have all but given up faith in their own institutions.
Polls show that as few as one in four Republican voters accept the election results.
Thousands of Trump supporters, including members of far-right groups, protested in Washington at the weekend, fighting with counter-protesters. The threat of violence required that extraordinary security measures be established for the Electoral College meetings in several states, including Arizona and Michigan, The New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, Stephen Miller, a senior Trump advisor, told Fox News on Monday that an "alternate slate of electors" had been created to send its own results to Congress.
"We have more than enough time to right the wrong of this fraudulent election result and certify Donald Trump as the winner of the election," Miller said, without explaining the idea of a shadow Electoral College.
Trump was also still at it on Monday, tweeting more accusations with no basis in reality.
"Swing States that have found massive VOTER FRAUD, which is all of them, CANNOT LEGALLY CERTIFY these votes as complete & correct without committing a severely punishable crime," he said.
The legal Electoral College vote, however, will leave the Trump train almost no place left to go.
Only one big formality remains before Biden's inauguration on January 20, when Congress, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, opens up and counts the electoral votes on January 6.
Despite rumblings that Trump allies may seek to turn this largely ceremonial event into another battlefront against the election results, it seems clear that support for continued theatrics is steadily ebbing.
In the latest sign of a shifting tide, the staunchly Trump-supporting editorial board of The Wall Street Journal told Trump on Monday that his time is up.
"President Trump's legal challenges have run their course, and he and the rest of the Republican Party can help the country and themselves by acknowledging the result and moving on," the editorial said.
No one expects Trump to refuse to leave the White House. However, there is no indication he will ever agree to concede, let alone bow to tradition by inviting Biden to the White House for a friendly chat.
Asked on Fox News this weekend whether he would even attend Biden's inauguration, Trump answered: "I don't want to talk about that."