Pennsylvania Certifies Election Results as Trump Signs Off on 'Initial Protocols' of Transition

Pennsylvania certified its election results on Tuesday, officially naming former Vice President Joe Biden the winner and giving him a whopping 20 electoral votes. The day before Pennsylvania's certification, the General Services Administration signed off on Biden starting the transition process, a delay that made the Trump administration the target of criticism.

Unofficial results put Biden at 306 electoral votes, but while reliable, vote tallies aren't confirmed until the results are certified. The Trump campaign has fought vigorously in Pennsylvania to have the president declared the winner to little avail, but has vowed to continue the battle even after results are certified.

Governor Tom Wolf announced the Pennsylvania State Department certified the results on Tuesday morning, adding that he signed the certificate of ascertainment for the state electors for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

"Again, I want to thank the election officials who have administered a fair and free election during an incredibly challenging time in our commonwealth and country's history," Wolf said. "Our election workers have been under constant attack and they have performed admirably and honorably."

The night before Pennsylvania certified its results, GSA administrator Emily Murphy sent a letter to the Biden transition team that it could begin the formal transition process. Part of that approval means the transition team will have access to office space and classified intelligence briefings. Trump, who's been criticized for blocking a smooth transition, said he instructed Murphy to do what "needs to be done with regard to initial protocols." However, he denied it was a sign he was accepting defeat.

"What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history? We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & "Dominion," Trump posted on Twitter on Monday night.

Unofficial vote tallies from the Associated Press gave Biden 81,492 more votes than Trump, a margin of about 1.2 percent. However, the Trump campaign has claimed that the president would be the winner if only "legal" votes were cast.

On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann dismissed a lawsuit from the Trump campaign that sought to block the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. The lawsuit argued that Republicans were unconstitutionally disadvantaged because some counties allowed voters to rectify mistakes on their mail-in ballots.

pennsylvania joe biden election results
US President-elect Joe Biden speaks after a meeting with governors in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 19. Pennsylvania certified its election results and deemed Biden the winner. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

In dismissing the suit, Brann wrote that "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations" could not justify "the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of [America's] sixth most populated state."

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, along with Jenna Ellis, an attorney for the Trump campaign, disagreed that they lacked evidence that 682,777 ballots were cast "illegally." On Sunday, the campaign filed an appeal with the 3rd Circuit, and the attorneys said it was a case that "appears to be moving quickly to the United States Supreme Court."

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected another five lawsuits from the Trump campaign.

"Failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters," Justice Christine L. Donohue wrote for the majority.

A total of 8,329 ballots were in question between the five lawsuits.

With 20 electoral votes, Pennsylvania was critical to Trump winning reelection and the Trump campaign is primed to continue fighting. But, some GOP legislators are pushing for the president to accept defeat.

"President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania," Senator Pat Toomey said in a statement on Saturday. "To ensure that he is remembered for these outstanding accomplishments, and to help unify our country, President Trump should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process."

Trump criticized Toomey, who endorsed and voted for him as president, for being "no friend of mine," in a Saturday night tweet.

On Monday morning, the Trump campaign filed a clarification to its appeal, with attorney Brian Caffrey writing that they only wish to exclude "defective mail in ballots which overwhelmingly favored Biden," not "illegally cast votes."

Even with the state certifying election results, the Trump campaign is still fighting for Pennsylvania. In a legal filing, the campaign pushed for their claims to be heard before the "safe harbor" date on December 8, the legally binding deadline for Pennsylvania to certify its results. Until then, the campaign argued a judge can reverse the decision.