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RICHMOND, Va. – Presidential electors have formally elected Barack Obama the nation’s 44th president.

Electors gathering in state capitols across the country have pushed Obama above the 270 electoral votes needed to win, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Obama takes office Jan. 20, becoming the nation’s first black president.

Monday’s voting was a largely ceremonial procedure, but one mandated by the Constitution. Obama defeated Republican Sen. John McCain in the Nov. 4 election.

More than 131 million voters cast ballots — the most ever in a presidential election. But Obama’s election will not be complete until Congress tallies the outcome of Monday’s Electoral College vote at a joint session scheduled for Jan. 6.

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