Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asks a question during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on police use of force and community…
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asks a question during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on police use of force and community relations on on Capitol Hill, June 16, 2020 in Washington.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is trying to become the first woman elected as the country’s vice president after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden selected her as his running mate. 

The child of a father from Jamaica and a mother from India, both of whom immigrated to the United States, Harris is already the first Black woman and first South Asian American to be part of a U.S. presidential ticket. 

The 55-year-old’s resume includes being the first Black attorney general of the state of California as well as the first woman to hold the job.  Her 2016 election to a U.S. Senate seat representing California made her the first woman of South Asian heritage to do so. 

Harris herself wanted to be in Biden’s position as the Democrat seeking to deny President Donald Trump another term and put the White House back in Democratic hands.   

Her campaign had a strong start, with 20,000 people attending her kickoff rally in her hometown of Oakland, California. In early July 2019, she trailed only Biden in public opinion polls after drawing praise for her performance in one of the early debates against the then-large field of Democratic candidates.

FILE - Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his plans to combat racial inequality at a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., July 28, 2020.

But in the months that followed, her poll numbers steadily declined and in early December she announced she was dropping out of the race, citing difficulties in raising money for her campaign. 

In March, just after Biden pulled ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders with a number of state primary wins, Harris gave Biden her endorsement in the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee, saying, “I believe in Joe.” 

“One of the things that we need right now is we need a leader who really does care about the people and who can therefore unify the people,” Harris said.  “And I believe Joe can do that.” 

Biden, in announcing Harris as his choice to join him on the November ballot, described her Tuesday as “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” 

Harris earned an undergraduate degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., a historically Black college where she joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.  She went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Hastings, before going to work in the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

Harris served two terms as district attorney of San Francisco before being elected California’s attorney general. 

Her record in those California jobs has been a target of scrutiny, with critics faulting her for not enacting criminal justice reforms and not doing enough to investigate police shootings. 

With those issues prominent in the United States with protesters carrying out months of demonstrations against police violence and inequality, Harris has been among lawmakers pushing legislation to enact police reforms on a national level. 

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.