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Electors cast ballots for Biden amid simmering national tensions

Electors across the country gathered on Monday — under a cloud of tensions and in some cases outright threats — to formally certify Joe Biden as the next U.S. president.

Protesters carrying Trump flags gathered near the capitol in Pennsylvania as the state prepared to cast its 20 electoral votes for Biden. Electors in Wisconsin were told to use a side door to enter the capitol to avoid expected protests, according to The New York Times. Legislative office buildings in Michigan were closed for the day due to what officials called "credible threats of violence."

On Monday morning, a Michigan state lawmaker would not promise there would be not be violence as he pledged to disrupt the state's proceedings to award Biden its 16 electoral votes.

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"I don’t know, because what we’re doing today is uncharted. It hasn’t been done. It’s not me doing it. It’s the Michigan party, Republican Party. I’m just here to witness," state Rep. Gary Eisen (R) said on a local radio show.

Eisen was removed from his committee assignments as a result, and the two top Republicans in Michigan made clear there would be no last-ditch move to appoint faithless electors who would back Trump for the presidency.

“Michigan’s Democratic slate of electors should be able to proceed with their duty, free from threats of violence and intimidation," state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) said. "President-elect BidenJoe BidenEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' News leaders deal with the post-Trump era MORE and Vice President-elect Harris won Michigan’s presidential election. It our responsibility as leaders to follow the law and move forward in pursuit of policies that contribute to the betterment of Michigan."

The swirl of hostility hovered over a day that has historically been procedural. 

But it came as President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE refuses to concede the race, insisting that the election was "stolen" from him without providing the evidence to support his claims. 

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Even as court after court has ruled against the president, including the Supreme Court twice last week, the president has continued to press his case. Republicans have been divided, with some refusing to recognize Biden as the president-elect despite his victory and Trump's defeats in court, a testament to the hold the outgoing president has on his party.

Despite the rhetoric from Trump, the electoral process had gone as planned as of Monday afternoon. Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia are among the battleground states that have already cast their electoral votes for Biden, despite efforts from Trump to overturn the results there.

The president-elect was scheduled to make remarks in prime time on Monday after the Electoral College certification was complete, with a focus on "the strength and resilience of our democracy."

Still, the heightened security at some statehouses, the presence of protesters and the need for officials to condemn threats reflected the acrimonious nature of the past several months, and the six weeks since Election Day in particular.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at governors and state election officials. He has called for Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Arizona's Democratic secretary of state to run for governor MORE (R) and Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempNorth Carolina county reverses course, ends coke machine ban MLB All-Star game to stay in Denver, judge rules MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' MORE (R) to be voted out of office after they signed off on results certifying Biden as the winner of their respective states.

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The president also went after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, who earlier this month called for Trump to condemn threats against election workers.

Christopher Krebs, who was the nation’s top cybersecurity official before Trump fired him after the election, said he had received death threats.

The White House earlier this month condemned threats against elections workers, but the tensions show few signs of abating, and Trump has signaled he won't suddenly accept defeat once the Electoral College makes Biden's win official.

Pro-Trump demonstrators descended on Washington, D.C., over the weekend as part of a "Stop the Steal" event, and it devolved into violent clashes with counterprotesters. Four people were reportedly stabbed, and more than 20 were arrested. 

Trump tweeted Sunday that the election was "under protest," and senior White House adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerShelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race Pro-Trump group presses Biden officials for records on critical race theory The Memo: Biden feels the heat from all sides on immigration MORE, speaking as a campaign adviser on Monday morning, said the president was lining up a slate of "alternate" electors for Monday. 

"The only date in the Constitution is Jan. 20. So 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 on "Fox & Friends."

In Georgia, even as former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams presided over the state awarding its 16 electoral votes to Biden, a group of Republicans gathered separately to cast ballots for Trump, despite there being nothing in the Constitution or state electoral processes that allows for such an "alternate" slate of electors.

"Had we not meet today and cast our votes, the President’s pending election contest would have been effectively mooted," Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer tweeted. "Our action today preserves his rights under Georgia law."