Outcome of US presidential election on a knife edge; counting still on in key battleground states

·5-min read

Washington, Nov 5 (PTI) Weary Americans will have to wait for some more time to know the clear winner of the closely-fought election between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden, as the final outcome hinged on a few states on Thursday where a flood of mail-in ballots triggered by the coronavirus pandemic were still being counted.

Two days after the presidential election, Biden is nearing the magical figure of 270 electoral votes to win the race to the White House, with the former US vice president bagging 253 votes compared to 213 won by Trump, according to latest US media projections.

The results in six states — Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Alaska and Nevada — are yet to be declared as officials counted millions of votes, some that were cast on Tuesday and many more during weeks of early voting amidst the surging pandemic.

In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than a single, national one. Each US state gets a certain number of Electoral College votes partly based on the size of the population, with a total of 538 up for grabs.

To reach the magic figure of 270 to claim victory, Trump, 74, must win all four remaining battleground states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada.

The Trump campaign has launched legal bids to stop the vote counts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan.

There are approximately 90,735 ballots still outstanding in Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office told CNN. The state has 16 Electoral College votes.

With 71 per cent of mail-in ballots counted in Pennsylvania, officials still needs to count 763,000 of the 2.6 million cast, according to the state’s official website. The state has 20 Electroal College votes.

North Carolina has 15 Electoral College votes while Nevada has six.

Projections on Wednesday put Biden, 77, as the winner in Michigan and Wisconsin, two states Trump won in the 2016 election.

As several battleground states continue to count votes and the margins remain razor-thin, Biden tweeted Thursday morning: “Every vote must be counted.' 'Keep the faith, guys. We’re gonna win this,' he tweeted.

An hour later, President Trump tweeted, 'STOP THE COUNT!' It’s unclear whether Trump’s missive was directed at a particular state or states, since his campaign has also advocated for counting every ballot in places where Biden is ahead.

'All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud. Plenty of proof - just check out the Media. WE WILL WIN! America First!,' the president tweeted.

Earlier, Biden said, 'I’m not here to declare that we've won. But I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.” Biden could reach the 270 Electoral College vote threshold needed to win the election if he holds onto his leads in Arizona and Nevada.

Trump, however, still has a path to victory if he can take back any one of the states where Biden is leading. Trump is leading in other states that have not yet been called: Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska. By sweeping these, but not flipping a Biden-leaning state, Trump would end up with 268 Electoral College votes, just short of the 270 needed to win.

But senior Trump campaign aide Jason Miller said: 'By the end of this week, it will be clear to the entire nation that President Trump and Vice-President Pence will be elected for another four years.' Even as vote-counting was ongoing in the early hours on Wednesday, Trump appeared before supporters at the White House to claim victory.

The incumbent president said he would go to the Supreme Court to try to have what he called the 'voting' stopped, although polls had closed hours earlier and state election officials were continuing the ballots.

'This is a major fraud on our nation,' Trump contended, adding, 'As far as I’m concerned, I already have won.' In the battleground states key to determining the winner of the election — Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania — the Trump campaign filed lawsuits on Wednesday over mail ballot handling, while in Wisconsin the Trump team requested a recount.

The Trump campaign said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing 'irregularities in several Wisconsin counties'.

Incomplete results indicate the margin between Trump and Biden in Wisconsin is less than one percentage point, which allows a candidate to seek a recount.

The Trump campaign also filed a lawsuit in Michigan to stop counting there because it contended it had been denied 'meaningful access' to observe the opening of ballots and the tally.

His campaign asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the ballot counting in Pennsylvania, according to US media reports.

The overall voter turnout in the November 3 presidential election was projected to be the highest in 120 years at 66.9 per cent, according to the US Election Project.

Former US vice president Biden got over 72 million voters, the most won by any presidential candidate ever. President Trump received more than 68 million votes, four million more than he gained in 2016 when he defeated his then Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The one of the most divisive and bitter election race was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit a new record high of 103,000 daily cases in the US on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The US is the worst-hit nation with over 233,700 deaths and more than 9,486,000 confirmed cases, according to latest data from Johns Hopkins University. PTI AKJ AKJ