As Biden gains ground, Trump again accuses Democrats, without evidence, of trying to 'steal' election
With just a handful of states still up for grabs, Biden maintains lead over U.S. president
- Electoral college vote stands at 253 for Biden, 214 for Trump.
- Election observer says no evidence for Trump's fraud claims.
- Michigan, Georgia judges dismiss Trump campaign lawsuits.
- Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
- How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
- What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gained more ground on President Donald Trump in the battleground states of Georgia and Pennsylvania on Friday, edging closer to the White House hours after Trump falsely claimed the election was being "stolen" from him.
Biden had a 253 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, according to most major television networks, and was inching toward securing the 270 votes needed to win the state-by-state Electoral College in four undecided swing states.
Biden would become the next president by winning Pennsylvania, or by winning two out of the trio of Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Trump's likeliest path appeared narrower - he needed to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia and also to overtake Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.
In Georgia, which has 16 electoral votes, Biden edged into the lead by about 900 votes early Friday morning. In Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, Biden cut Trump's lead to just over 18,000.
Those numbers were expected to continue to move in Biden's favour, with many of the outstanding ballots from areas that typically vote Democratic, including the cities of Philadelphia and Atlanta.
WATCH | Trump makes unfounded allegations about "illegal" votes:
Biden, meanwhile, saw his lead in Arizona shrink to around 47,000 by early on Friday; he was still ahead in Nevada by only 12,000 votes.
As the country held its breath three days after Tuesday's Election Day, Georgia and Pennsylvania officials expressed optimism they would finish counting on Friday, while Arizona and Nevada were still expected to take days to finalize their vote totals.
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.
States have historically taken time after Election Day to tally all votes
No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever.<br><br>America has come too far, fought too many battles, and endured too much to let that happen.—@JoeBiden
Lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia dismissed
In an extraordinary assault on the democratic process, Trump appeared in the White House briefing room on Thursday evening and baselessly alleged the election was being "stolen" from him.
Offering no evidence, Trump lambasted election workers and sharply criticized polling before the election that he said was designed to suppress the vote because it favored Biden.
"They're trying to rig an election, and we can't let that happen," said Trump, who spoke for about 15 minutes in the White House briefing room before leaving without taking questions. Several TV networks cut away during his remarks, with anchors saying they needed to correct his statements.
Biden, who earlier in the day urged patience as votes were counted, responded on Twitter: "No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever."
Earlier in the day, a Michigan judge dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit in a dispute over whether Republican challengers had access to the handling of absentee ballots. The lawsuit claimed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers.
Michigan First District Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens said that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. She also said Benson was the wrong person to sue because she doesn't control the logistics of local ballot counting even if she is the state's chief election officer.
Much of the dispute centred on the TCF Center in Detroit where pro-Trump protesters gathered while absentee ballots were being counted.
A judge in Georgia, where Trump and Biden were neck and neck Thursday night with 98 per cent of votes reported, also dismissed a lawsuit over the vote in that state late Wednesday.
It was unclear if any of the Trump campaign's legal manoeuvring over ballot counting would succeed in shifting the race in his favour. Late Thursday afternoon, the campaign said it had launched yet another lawsuit, this time against the Philadelphia board of electors, seeking an injunction to bar ballot counting unless Republican observers are present.
Trump supporters are shouting “stop the cheat” as they walk around the block. In Georgia there has been no proof of any cheating. Election officials have long warned it would take a couple of days to count all ballots. <a href="https://t.co/48CitPERVZ">pic.twitter.com/48CitPERVZ</a>—@CBCKatie
Meanwhile, Biden pushed closer to the 270 electoral college votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the "blue wall" battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing Trump's path.
Biden's victories in the Great Lakes states left him with 253 electoral votes while Trump has 214.
Biden also holds narrow leads in Nevada and Arizona while Trump watched his slim advantage fade in must-win states Pennsylvania and Georgia as mail-in and absentee votes were being counted. The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden, but CBC News still considers it too close to call and is waiting to make the determination.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on Thursday afternoon that she was unaware of any allegations of voter fraud in her state as the final votes were being counted.
WATCH | Pennsylvania's secretary of state says it's not yet clear who the winner is:
Biden encourages patience
Biden called for calm Thursday afternoon as the final votes are counted.
"Democracy is sometimes messy," he said from Wilmington, Del. "It sometimes requires a bit of patience, too."
And he reiterated that he feels good about where things stand and is confident he will be the winner when the count is complete.
With ballots still to be tabulated, Biden already had received close to 74 million votes, the most in U.S. history, while Trump had more than 69 million, about seven million more than in 2016.
WATCH | Biden says he feels good about where things stand:
Election staff worried about their safety
Election officials in several states said Thursday they are worried about the safety of their staff amid a stream of threats and gatherings of angry protesters outside their doors.
Groups of Trump supporters have gathered at vote tabulation sites in Phoenix, Detroit and Philadelphia, decrying counts that showed Biden leading or gaining ground.
While the protests have not been violent or very large, local officials were distressed and concerned by the relentless accusations.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted a plea to "stop making harassing & threatening calls" to her staff.
As of Thursday afternoon, Arizona state officials said about 450,000 ballots remain to be counted, while an election official in Georgia said more than 47,000 votes are still to be counted.
"The effort here is to make sure that everybody's legal vote is counted properly and that the actual results are reflective of the voters' intent," said Gabriel Sterling, a voting system manager in Atlanta. "These close elections require us to be diligent and make sure we do everything right."
Trump clung to a narrow lead in North Carolina as well, another must-win for him. Trump had to win the states where he was still ahead and either Arizona or Nevada to triumph and avoid becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since fellow Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.
WATCH | Trump backers angry at slow pace of count in Georgia:
Nevada official responds to Trump campaign allegations
In Las Vegas, Trump allies alleged, without evidence, that there had been voting irregularities in populous Clark County, which includes the city. Former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, a Republican, said a lawsuit would be filed in federal court to ask the judge to "stop the counting of improper votes."
On Thursday, Clark County, Nev., election official Joe Gloria told reporters, "We are unaware of any improper ballots that are being processed."
He said the counting is slow because there are far more mail-in ballots this year than in previous elections, and that the U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver all ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 through Nov. 10.
WATCH | Clark County official explains why counting is slower than usual:
Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to Biden's campaign, called the various Trump lawsuits "meritless" and designed to undermine the integrity of the electoral process.
In Georgia, a judge dismissed a different lawsuit by that state's Republican Party and Trump's campaign that asked him to ensure a coastal county was following state laws on processing absentee ballots.
Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.
WATCH | Result of U.S. presidential election remains unknown:
An appeals court in Pennsylvania on Thursday ordered that Trump campaign officials be allowed to more closely observe ballot processing in Philadelphia. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin, meanwhile, have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden led by more than 20,000 ballots out of nearly 3.3 million counted.
Election observer says no evidence for Trump's claims
The head of an international delegation monitoring the U.S. election said his team has no evidence to support Trump's claims about alleged fraud involving mail-in absentee ballots.
Michael Georg Link, a German lawmaker who heads an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told German public broadcaster rbb Thursday that "on the election day itself, we couldn't see any violations" at the U.S. polling places they visited.
WATCH | No obvious legal grounds to stop vote count, law professor says:
Link said he was "very surprised" by Trump's claims about postal ballot fraud because the United States has a long history of this method of voting going back to the 19th century. The Vienna-based OSCE, of which the U.S. is a member, conducts observer missions at major elections in all of its member countries.
"We looked into this. We found no violations of the rules whatsoever," Link told rbb. He said neither U.S. election observers nor media found any evidence of fraud either, though the OSCE team on Wednesday repeated long-standing concerns about disenfranchisement of some voters and the distorting effects of campaign finance laws.
Trump used his Twitter feed to falsely claim victory in several key states and amplify unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.
He weighed in again on Twitter on Thursday, writing: "Stop the count!" Twitter later flagged a different Trump tweet as disputed and possibly misleading; Trump tweeted that "any vote that came in after election day will not be counted."
ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!—@realDonaldTrump
Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after election day as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days later.
WATCH | Trump will not concede, U.S. politics professor maintains:
What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.
With files from CBC News and Reuters