(BBC) — Joe Biden has won the race to become the next US president, defeating Donald Trump following a cliff-hanger vote count after Tuesday’s election.
The BBC projects that Mr Biden has won the key battleground of Pennsylvania, propelling him over the 270 electoral college vote threshold required to clinch the White House.
The Trump campaign has indicated their candidate does not plan to concede.
Mr Biden said it was now time for America to “unite and heal”.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said.
He said he was “honoured and humbled” to be elected and said the record turnout in the face of “unprecedented obstacles” showed that democracy “beats deep in the heart of America”.
The result makes Mr Trump the first one-term president since the 1990s.
Mr Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, is set to become the first woman vice-president.
The BBC’s projection of Mr Biden’s victory is based on the unofficial results from states that have already finished counting their votes, and the expected results from states like Wisconsin where the count is continuing.
His projected win in Pennsylvania takes him to 273 electoral college votes.
The election has seen the highest turnout since 1900. Mr Biden has won more than 74 million votes so far, the most ever for a US presidential candidate. Mr Trump has drawn more than 70 million, the second-highest tally in history.
The election was fought as coronavirus cases and deaths continued to rise across the United States, with President Trump arguing a Biden presidency would result in lockdowns and economic gloom. Joe Biden accused the president of failing to impose sufficient measures to control the spread of Covid-19.
Joe Biden is now set to return to the White House, where he served for eight years as President Barack Obama’s deputy. At the age of 78, he will be the oldest president in American history.
What happens now?
Usually the losing candidate concedes but Mr Trump has vowed to contest the election results on several fronts.
Responding to the Pennsylvania results, his campaign put out a statement saying: “This election is not over. The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final.”
A recount will be held in Georgia, where the margins are tight, and Mr Trump wants the same in Wisconsin. He has also vowed to take legal action to the Supreme Court, alleging voting fraud without evidence.
If the election result is challenged, it would require legal teams to challenge this in the state courts. State judges would then need to uphold the challenge and order a recount, and Supreme Court justices could then be asked to overturn a ruling.
Meanwhile, votes in some states are continuing to be counted and results are never official until final certification, which occurs in each state in the weeks following the election.
This must be done before 538 chosen officials (electors) from the Electoral College – which officially decides who wins the election – meet in their state capitals to vote on 14 December.
The electors’ votes usually mirror the popular vote in each state. However, in some states this is not a formal requirement.
The new president is officially sworn into office on 20 January after a transition period to give them time to appoint cabinet ministers and make plans.
The handover of power takes place at a ceremony known as the inauguration, which is held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC.
After the ceremony, the new president makes their way to the White House to begin their four-year term in office.
How election is third time lucky for Biden
Mr Biden ran for the White House twice before.
In 1988 he withdrew from the race after he admitted to plagiarising a speech by the then leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock.
In 2008, he tried again to get the Democratic nomination before dropping out and joining Barack Obama’s ticket.
His eight years as vice-president allowed him to lay claim to much of Mr Obama’s legacy, including passage of the Affordable Care Act.
The six-term senator from Delaware was first elected in 1972.
Early in his career, he sided with southern segregationists in opposing court-ordered school bussing to racially integrate public schools.
He was also a fierce advocate of a 1994 anti-crime bill that many on the left now say encouraged lengthy sentences and mass incarceration.
Most Americans know that Joe Biden’s life has been marked by personal tragedy – experiences he often refers to.
In 1972, he lost his first wife, Neilia, and baby daughter, Naomi, in a car accident. He famously took the oath of office for his first Senate term from the hospital room of his toddler sons Beau and Hunter, who both survived the accident.
In 2015, Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46, and Joe Biden said this played a role in his decision not run for president in 2016.