WORLD Biden inches closer to win as Trump rails against ‘fraud’
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden inched closer to winning the White House as ballot counts in key swing states continued to trickle in on Thursday and into Friday, while President Donald Trump doubled-down on baseless claims of fraud and legal threats seeking to undermine the US election results.
All eyes were on tight races in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona on Thursday and into Friday, where ballots were still being counted, to see if any are solid enough to be called for a candidate.
Two days after the election, the vote margins were in some cases down to just thousands of votes, after some 160 million people cast ballots in total across the United States.
If Biden were to hold a lead in Arizona, which narrowed to around 47,000 votes on Thursday, any other state coming in for him will likely push him over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
“We have no doubt when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners,” Biden said on Thursday, referring to Kamala Harris, his running mate. “Democracy is sometimes messy and sometimes requires a little patience as well.”
In Nevada, Biden‘s narrow lead widened slightly to around 11,400 votes as the country awaited more tallies from the Las Vegas area, while Trump’s once commanding lead in Georgia slowly dwindled to a near-tie with less than 2,000 votes separating them.
Meanwhile, mail-in ballots being counted in Pennsylvania trended strongly towards Biden. The former vice president appears poised to overtake Trump’s lead in the state sometime on Friday.
Each state in the union is allocated a fixed number of Electoral College votes based on population and the candidates need 270 electoral votes to win.
As anticipated, the unprecedented flood of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic has taken longer to count and largely favoured Biden, since Trump encouraged his supporters to vote in person.
This has created a situation where Trump’s leads in some states have narrowed from election night as mail-in ballots are counted, leading to false accusations that the vote is rigged against the president.
Trump has taken to Twitter and made televised statements, where he levelled the unfounded allegations. On Thursday he cited undisclosed “evidence” of fraud in the Democratic-leaning cities of Detroit and Philadelphia.
“We think there will be a lot of litigation,” Trump said at the White House, his first in-person comments since election night. “Ultimately, I have a feeling judges are going to rule.”
Trump wants any votes received after polls closed not be counted. There are court rulings allowing those votes to be counted in certain states, based on local regulations.
“STOP THE COUNT!” Trump said in one tweet, although he has no authority over the matter. “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!” he wrote in another.
As with previous tweets of his that appeared to spread misinformation, Twitter restricted the post and affixed a warning label.
Meanwhile Trump’s son Donald Jr called on his father to wage “total war” over the unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud as Trump supporters stage isolated protests in Arizona and elsewhere.
Republicans have filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia, and have asked for a vote re-count in Wisconsin. They say, without providing evidence, that mail-in ballots that arrived after the state deadlines are being counted anyway and that Republican poll watchers are being shut out.
The lawsuits are often on shaky grounds with judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly tossing out petitions by the Trump campaign which could have affected the counting, according to Democratic lawyers.
Authorities around the country have also pushed back against Trump’s assertions of fraud, stressing that county election officials are working hard under tremendous pressure.
“They are not involved in voter fraud, these people are not involved in voter suppression,” Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official, told a press conference.
Biden‘s campaign manager called the lawsuits being filed by Trump “meritless.”
“Donald Trump continues to push a flailing strategy designed to prevent people’s votes from being counted,” Jen O’Malley Dillon said.
Trump’s railing against the US election system has unnerved some within the Republican party, however, key party leaders have sided with the president, saying the election is being stolen from Trump.
“President Trump won this election,” Kevin McCarthy, the leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives said on Fox News. “Do not be silent about this.”
Lindsey Graham, a high-profile Republican senator, said he will donate 500,000 dollars to help Trump wage legal battles. Speaking to Fox News, the Senate Judiciary committee chairman claimed, without providing evidence, that elections in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – where ballots are still being counted – are “crooked as a snake.”
Trump does not appear ready to concede the election, as he has claimed victory in states that are still up-in-the-air and even Michigan, where Biden holds a commanding lead.