President Barack Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 presidential election Friday in a special joint session of Congress, finally closing the book on the tumultuous and expensive campaign. Vice President Joe Biden, serving 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 vote count lacked the history 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. 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 D. 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.
Friday’s ceremony closed a three-step process that chooses the nation’s president and vice president. It began 59 days ago 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 has been tracking 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.
In the last 200 years, 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College, according to the National Archives.