The election is over. See photos of America’s divided reaction

The country celebrates and protests the election results as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the 2020 presidential election.

Photograph by David Guttenfelder, National Geographic
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An embrace the nation needs: On the steps of Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing, amid loud argument over the ongoing vote count, Trump supporter Kevin Skinner takes a conciliatory moment with a Black Lives Matter member who calls himself Marvin F.

Photograph by David Guttenfelder, National Geographic

Across the United States, people erupted in spontaneous celebration on Saturday as Joe Biden secured enough votes to be declared the 46th President. Moved by the announcement of his win, called by numerous news organizations Saturday morning as Biden’s electoral college surged past 270 needed to win, many took to the streets—to dance, honk horns and bang on pots and pans.

The spontaneous celebrations were aimed at ushering in a new era of American political leadership. In Washington, D.C., thousands gathered along Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, where peaceful protestors were tear gassed earlier this summer. Now, five months later, people popped champagne, waved “You’re fired!” cardboard signs, and sang American classics together. “Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good!” their voices echoed.

The celebratory scene continued in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta, cities that helped propel Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, to victory.

The scene was more somber in some battleground states where ballots were still being counted Saturday. Many supporters of President Donald Trump, along with the President himself, were not ready to concede the election. Instead, thousands gathered at state capitol buildings across the U.S. to protest what they and the President contended is a fraudulent election process. In Lansing, Michigan, protesters and counter-protesters—some armed and some in colonial attire—argued in front of the capitol building about the election results.

With more than 74 million votes in his favor, President-elect Biden received more votes than any presidential candidate in U.S. history. During the past week, our photographers have documented Americans’ participation in this unprecedented election.

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Trump supporters gather on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to protest the results of the presidential election.

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Cooper Sherwin and Joan Taylor, who both canvassed for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, kiss as Sherwin holds a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence. On November 7, the Associated Press and other news networks reported that Biden won the state, making him the next U.S. president.

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Four days after Election Day, revelers at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., react to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., becoming the president-elect.

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On the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Trump supporters shout at Biden supporters as the two groups turned up to protest and counter-protest the results of the presidential election.

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On election night, local Democrats held a small watch party in Rodano’s Bar in downtown Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. As attendees checked their phones to watch the results trickle in, it became clear that the race would be close, and the results would not be known right away.

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Kristan Small holds a flag in honor of her father, Korean War veteran Gordon Small, who died on May 8 after contracting COVID-19. She joined a small crowd gathered on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to call for the complete counting of votes in the presidential election. "My father died because his home health nurse didn’t have proper PPE," she said. "That’s why I’m here tonight. I’m here because we have a president who has claimed to have absolute authority but hasn’t read the Constitution. We know that democracy is fragile. My father would not have stood for that. My father voted in every election. They’d damn well better count my vote.”

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Atlanta residents took to the streets to celebrate the announcement of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 Presidential election. Georgia was one of the swing states whose close vote count delayed the call in the narrow race. President Donald J. Trump is expected to challenge the results in court but the margin is wide enough that he it is not expected to change the result of the election.

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Zoe Bishop, 27 of South Philadelphia, (in red) danced at the celebratory count the vote event. As the vote count continued inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with Joe Biden's lead beginning to grow, the mood outside shifted from rebellious to celebratory. All afternoon and into the evening, a block full of people danced and sang to cheer on what many saw as an imminent declaration of victory over Donald Trump. Across the street, the showing of Trump supporters dwindled by early evening to a handful of people.

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In Detroit, Trump supporters protest the validity of the ongoing vote count outside the city's TCF center, where the tally of Michigan's votes is underway.

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Four days after election day, Saturday revelers in Washington D.C.'s Black Lives Matter Plaza react to the news that Joe Biden has won enough electoral votes to be assured the presidency.

National Geographic sent eight photographers into the field to document the election: Andrea Bruce in North Carolina, Christopher Gregory-Rivera in Florida, Greg Kahn and Jared Soares in Washington D.C., David Guttenfelder in Wisconsin, and Natalie Keyssar in Pennsylvania. Photographers Graham Dickie and Stephanie Mei-Ling covered large voter turn out in Texas and early voters in New York.