“I feel liberated,” said Linda Gomez, 37, an activist who has worked to promote rights for convicted felons and who herself was formerly incarcerated. She added, “Today is the people’s day.”
Ms. Gomez, like others there, said voting out President Trump would not be enough to achieve the changes voters were seeking.
“We have to make sure things are implemented,” she said. “We have to hold Biden accountable.”
Sitting outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Christian Hanna, 31, stopped his afternoon bike ride to take in the election news after he noticed his phone, balanced on the handlebars of his bike, “blowing up” with the updates.
Mr. Hanna is a registered Republican who said he disagreed with the divisive tone of Mr. Trump’s speeches and also disagreed with parts of Mr. Biden’s record. He said he voted for a third-party candidate, Jo Jorgensen.
He said some of his friends on social media were popping bottles of Champagne while others were saying, “Fight this, fight this.” He read a tweet from Mr. Trump in which the president claimed to have won the election, and said it made him think wistfully about how John McCain had accepted defeat in 2008.
“I believe in decorum,” said Mr. Hanna, who added that he was considering changing his registration to independent. “I believe in handling wins and handling losses with grace.”
Across the street, four sheriff’s deputies sat in an unmarked black S.U.V., keeping an eye out.
Julie Bosman reported from Chicago, Lucy Tompkins from Bismarck, N.D., and Sabrina Tavernise from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker in Seattle, Tim Arango in Los Angeles, Sarah Mervosh in Cleveland, Frances Robles in Miami, Stacy M. Brown in Harrisburg, Pa. and Kathleen Gray in Lansing, Mich.