Democrat Joe Biden moved closer to winning the US presidential race on Thursday as election officials in a handful of states that determine the outcome and protesters took to the streets received votes.
President Donald Trump alleged fraud without evidence, filed lawsuits and requested recounts in a race that had not been decided two days after the polls closed. He tweeted “STOP THE COUNT!” Tonight.
STOP THE COUNTING!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 5th November 2020
The race ended up completing competitions in five states. Biden had tight heads in Nevada and Arizona while Trump watched his small advantage wear off in must-win states of Pennsylvania and Georgia as mail-in and absentee votes were counted. The Republican president held onto a narrow head start in North Carolina as well, another must-have for him.
Trump had to win the states he was ahead of, as well as Arizona or Nevada, to triumph and avoid becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to offer a re-election offer since fellow Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Edison Research gave Biden a 243 lead to 213 electoral college votes, which are largely based on the population of a state. Other networks said Biden won Wisconsin, which would give him another 10 votes. A candidate needs 270 votes to win.
The counting and judicial processes set the stage for days, if not weeks, of uncertainty before the electoral college meets on December 14 and the next president is sworn in on January 20.
Amid mounting tensions, about 200 of Trump’s supporters, some armed with rifles and handguns, gathered outside a polling station in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday after unfounded rumors that votes would not be counted.
In Detroit, officials prevented about 30 people, mostly Republicans, from entering a vote counting facility despite unfounded claims that the Michigan vote was fraudulent.
Anti-Trump protesters in other cities called for the vote count to continue. Police arrested 11 people and confiscated weapons in Portland, Oregon after reports of riots. Arrests were also made in New York, Denver and Minneapolis. Over 100 events are planned nationwide between Wednesday and Saturday.
As of early Thursday, Biden had 3.6 million more votes nationwide than Trump, but margins in several states were paper thin. In Wisconsin, Biden led Trump with around 21,000 of 3.3 million votes cast. In Georgia, Trump led with 19,000 votes out of nearly 5 million votes cast.
77-year-old Biden predicted a victory on Wednesday and launched a website to begin the transition to a democratically controlled White House.
The 74-year-old Trump has long tried to undermine the credibility of the voting process when he lost. Since Tuesday’s election day, he has falsely declared victory, accused Democrats of trying to steal the election without evidence, and vowed to fight states in court.
US electors say fraud is rare.
Trump’s campaign called for a recount in Wisconsin – which he would be entitled to given the limited scope – and lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop the count. Michigan State Secretary Jocelyn Benson, responsible for elections, described the Trump team’s lawsuit as “frivolous”.
Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit in Georgia demanding that Chatham County, which includes the city of Savannah, segregate and secure late-arriving ballots to ensure they are not counted.
It also called on the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Trump to join a pending Pennsylvania Republican lawsuit over whether the battlefield state can accept late-arriving ballots.
The maneuvers took a lot of effort to contest the results before the census was complete.
“You can find Biden votes everywhere – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our country!” Trump posted on Twitter.
Biden said that every vote must be counted. “Nobody will take our democracy away from us, not now, never,” he said on Wednesday.
If Biden wins, he will face a tough government battle. Republicans seem poised to retain control of the U.S. Senate, which they could use to block large parts of its legislative agenda, including expanding health care and tackling climate change.
US stock index futures rose Thursday as investors bet that a potential Washington stall could reduce the likelihood of major policy changes, although concerns remain about the risk of a controversial election.
The controversial election episodes have concluded a campaign that took place amid the coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 233,000 people in the U.S. and left millions more unemployed. The country is also grappling with months of unrest over protests against racism and police brutality.
According to a Reuters balance sheet, the US set a daily record for new coronavirus cases with at least 102,591 new infections on Wednesday.
Supporters of both candidates expressed anger, frustration and fear with little clarity as to when the election would be decided.
Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 after winning key battlefield states, despite receiving about 3 million more votes nationwide.
Republican candidates have won the referendum only once since the 1980s, despite winning three out of seven presidential elections during that time, due to the electoral college.