A joint session of U.S. Congress on Thursday officially declared Barack Obama the next President, based on a tally of 538 electoral college votes.
Both the House of the Representatives and the Senate met in a joint session at about 1 p.m. eastern time (1800 GMT) and officially counted the votes.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. He speaks to the media during a news conference at his transition office in Washington January 7, 2009.[Xinhua/Reuters]
Without surprise, Democrat Barack Obama won with 365 votes against Republican John McCain's 173 votes.
Vice President Dick Cheney, in capacity as Senate President, declared Obama as the winner, which was welcomed by a standing ovation of all lawmakers present.
The votes tallied were the ballots from the Electoral College, which convened on Dec. 15 last year in every state and the District of Columbia.
Obama won last November's presidential election with 365 electoral votes, compared to 173 for McCain, and all 538 electors cast their ballots accordingly when the Electoral College met last month.
U.S. law normally requires Congress to count the Electoral College ballots on January 6, but this year, that date conflicted with the swearing-in ceremonies for the new Congress.
Therefore, lawmakers passed a measure last October to change the date to January 8 for 2009 only.
Obama will be sworn-in as the 44th U.S. president on Jan. 20 at the west front of the Capitol.
His inaugural will also commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth by having as its theme words from the Gettysburg address, "A New Birth of Freedom".
(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2009)