California has certified its presidential election and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s formal approval of Biden’s win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
That’s just over the 270 threshold for victory.
These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a US president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Mr Biden’s victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalised.
Although it’s been apparent for weeks that Mr Biden won the presidential election, his accrual of more than 270 electors is the first step toward the White House.
The electors named on Friday will meet on December 14, along with counterparts in each state, to formally vote for the next president.
Most states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state, measures that were upheld by a Supreme Court decision this year.
There have been no suggestions that any of Mr Biden’s pledged electors would contemplate not voting for him.
Results of the Electoral College vote are due to be received, and typically approved, by Congress on January 6.
Although lawmakers can object to accepting the electors’ votes, it would be almost impossible for Mr Biden to be blocked at that point.
Mr Trump and his allies have brought at least 50 legal cases trying to overturn the results in the swing states Mr Biden won – mainly Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
More than 30 have been rejected or dropped.
The last remaining move to block the election would be the quixotic effort to vote down the electors in Congress.
This tactic has been tried – a handful of congressional Democrats in 2000, 2004 and 2016 objected to officially making both George W Bush and Mr Trump president.
But the numbers were not enough to block the two men from taking office.