Democratic candidate Joe Biden has won the U.S. presidential election after he secured enough electoral college votes on Saturday, according to U.S. networks. President Donald Trump is contesting some states’ results.
This is a breaking news update. You can find an earlier version of this story below:
Four days after the U.S. presidential election, the counting of votes in a handful of critical states appears to bring Democrat Joe Biden ever closer to a victory over President Donald Trump, who continues to claim election fraud.
The delay in announcing a winner can be attributed to high turnout, a massive number of mail-in ballots and slim margins between the candidates. Biden held leads in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, putting him in an ever-stronger position to capture the 270 electoral college votes needed to take the White House.
But in those states — as well as North Carolina, where Trump leads Biden by about 76,000 votes — the margins have been too narrow and the number of ballots left to be counted too great to declare a victor in jurisdictions with a winner-take-all system.
Biden’s lead continued to expand early Saturday in Georgia, by just over 7,200 votes — with the count nearly 99 per cent complete — up from a lead of around 4,000 on Friday afternoon. With such a slim margin, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said on Friday that ballots will undergo a recount.
WATCH | Georgia heads for recount with razor-thin vote margin:
Biden’s electoral college lead currently stands at 253-to-214. He had more than 74 million votes to Trump’s close to 70 million as of Friday night.
There was intense focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 28,000 votes, and Nevada, where Biden was up by about 22,000. The prolonged wait added to the anxiety of a nation facing historic challenges, including the surging coronavirus pandemic and deep political polarization.
Biden says count ‘can be numbing’
When Biden addressed the nation Friday night near his home in Wilmington, Del., he acknowledged the sluggish pace of the count “can be numbing.” But he said: “Never forget the tallies aren’t just numbers: They represent votes and voters.”
WATCH | ‘We’re going to win this race,’ says Biden:
He expressed confidence that victory ultimately would be his. “The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” the former vice-president said.
Standing alongside running mate Kamala Harris, Biden wasn’t able to give the acceptance speech at that time that his aides had hoped. But he hit notes of unity, seemingly aimed at cooling the temperature of a heated, divided nation.
“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare,” he said. “No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”
Trump takes to Twitter
Trump remained out of sight at the White House on Friday as the results gradually expanded Biden’s lead in must-win Pennsylvania, where 20 electoral college votes are up for grabs.
On Saturday, he tweeted more unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and illegal voting, posting a series of tweets alleging a lack of monitoring of votes in Pennsylvania.
Tens of thousands of votes were illegally received after 8 P.M. on Tuesday, Election Day, totally and easily changing the results in Pennsylvania and certain other razor thin states. As a separate matter, hundreds of thousands of Votes were illegally not allowed to be OBSERVED…
Trump also took to Twitter late Friday to pledge further legal action, tweeting that “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!”
Election officials in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada — both Republican and Democrat — have all said they saw no widespread voting irregularities or major instances of fraud or illegal activity.
Even Trump’s own administration has pushed back at the claims of widespread voter fraud and illegal voting, without mentioning that Trump was the one making the allegations. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which oversees U.S. election security, also noted local election offices have detection measures that “make it highly difficult to commit fraud through counterfeit ballots.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and potential presidential hopeful who has often criticized Trump, said on Thursday that there was “no defence” for Trump comments about election fraud, which the governor said were “undermining our Democratic process.”
“America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before,” Hogan said. He repeated the theme on Saturday, tweeting, saying “If there are legitimate challenges, we have a process; that’s the way it works.”
Trump’s campaign has engaged in a flurry of legal activity across the battleground states. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits on Thursday, undercutting a campaign legal strategy to attack the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean Trump’s defeat.
On Friday evening, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito approved a GOP request ordering county boards to comply with Pennsylvania state guidance to keep the late ballots separate from those received before or on Election Day. Alito, however, did not direct election officials to stop counting the ballots, as the Republicans had also sought.
Trump to fight ‘through every aspect of the law’
Trump vowed to continue his legal fight on Friday, according to a statement released by the White House.
“We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government,” Trump said in a statement.
“I will never give up fighting for you and our nation.”
WATCH | Trump attempts to use courts to hold White House:
Trump has sought to portray as fraudulent the slow counting of mail-in ballots, which surged in popularity due to fears of exposure to the coronavirus through in-person voting. As counts from those ballots have been tallied, they have eroded the initial strong leads the president had in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Protesters crying foul over closely watched vote counts rallied outside tabulation centres in Phoenix and Detroit on Friday.
Roughly 200 Trump supporters gathered for a third straight day in front of the elections centre in downtown Phoenix, where hundreds of workers are still processing and counting ballots.
WATCH | Arizona protesters echo Trump’s ‘stolen election’ claims:
“Arrest the poll workers,” the crowd chanted, demanding that Trump’s presidency be renewed for “four more years.” Sheriffs’ deputies kept protesters in a “free speech” zone away from the entrance to the building.
In Philadelphia, two armed men were arrested Thursday near the convention centre where an ongoing vote count was happening, police said Friday. Police said the men, not yet identified, will be charged with firearms offences.
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