U.S. President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory in the presidential election Wednesday — despite no winner being declared and millions of votes waiting to be counted in several key battleground states — as Joe Biden urged Democrats to “keep the faith” and wait for the final results.
Trump spoke from the White House and claimed Biden “can’t catch us” in a number of those states, despite counting still ongoing.
“We will be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop,” he said, ignoring the fact that voting did stop once polls closed across the country.
“We will win this, and as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.”
Before Trump’s comments, Biden took to the stage in Delaware in the early hours of Wednesday with confidence.
“We believe we’re on track to win this election,” he told a crowd of supporters.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to say who won this election. That’s the decision of the American people. But I’m optimistic about this outcome.”
Biden said his campaign is “confident about Arizona,” “feeling really good about Michigan,” and that Democrats are “still in the game in Georgia.”
He acknowledged that it will take time for all votes to be counted but said he’s sure he will win Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on Wednesday the state is approaching 50 per cent of mail ballots counted and vowed that every vote will be tallied before results are announced.
“There are still millions of ballots left to be counted,” she told reporters. There are 10 times the number of mail ballots this year as in 2016, she said. “We are going to count every single ballot.”
Results in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona play a critical role in delivering the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House, and they’re still too close to call.
Later Wednesday morning, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon called Trump’s comments “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect.”
O’Malley Dillon said the Biden campaign has “legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort.” And, she said, “They will prevail.”
Minutes after Biden’s address, Trump took to Twitter and baselessly accused the Democrats of “trying to STEAL the Election.”
“We will never let them do it,” he tweeted.
The post was flagged by both Twitter and Facebook for containing misleading information.
Election officials are processing a historically large number of mail-in votes. The surge of mail ballots will mean some states will need more time than others. But, officials have stressed that accuracy is more important than speed.
Plus, according to laws in states such as Ohio and North Carolina, some ballots received after the election must still be counted if they are postmarked by a deadline.
Poll results, as it happens
Both candidates picked up predictable wins early in the night. As the first polls closed at 6 p.m. ET, Trump took Kentucky while Biden secured Vermont.
The second round of polls closed at 7 p.m. ET, with Trump taking West Virginia and South Carolina — both reliably conservative states. Biden, meanwhile, won the state of Virginia.
A slew of polls closed at 8 p.m. ET, with the wins largely unfolding as expected. Trump won Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Indiana. Biden won Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Since 9 p.m. ET, Trump has secured Louisiana, Nebraska and its 3rd Congressional District, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas and Missouri. Biden took New Mexico, New York, the District of Columbia and Colorado.
By 10 p.m. ET, Biden took California, Washington and Oregon, while Trump won Idaho and Utah — all expected wins for both candidates.
Florida, a key battleground state with a history of close elections, was awarded to Trump late on Election Night. He gains its 29 electoral votes, the biggest prize among the battleground states. He later won Texas and its 38 electoral votes on Wednesday morning.
Later Wednesday morning, Biden won Arizona, Maine, Hawaii and Minnesota, along with Maine’s 1st Congressional District and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, each good for one electoral vote. Trump took Ohio, Montana and Iowa, along with the Nebraska’s four other electoral votes.
So far, Arizona is the only state Biden has flipped from Trump’s 2016 electoral map.
The states declared so far put Biden at 238 electoral votes and Trump at 213, according to a running tally by the Associated Press.
No clear winner?
Some Americans worry about a protracted ballot count in pivotal states, which could make the country wait days before a clear winner emerges.
For Biden, Pennsylvania is key to his White House hopes, but he does have other paths to nab the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president.
Bruce Heyman, former United States Ambassador to Canada, appointed by Barack Obama, said Biden needs some combination of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada, or “it’s not going to happen.”
“That’s where the mix is, and it’s going to take a while,” he told Global News.
“The president has protected a number of the states, but I don’t want to give up on North Carolina or Georgia yet… There’s still too many votes to count.”
He added: “At the end of the day, you’ve got to get 270 electoral college votes or you don’t win. That’s the path the vice-president needs to focus on.”
Trump, who had been slipping to Biden in the polls, told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that he believes his rally crowds are the “ultimate poll” and reflect a high number of votes in his favour for re-election.
Some hiccups at polling stations
Defying many expectations, there were few major hiccups on Election Day. Some voting lines snaked around blocks, but many polling stations ran smoothly. In some places, like Detroit and Atlanta, lines were relatively short, leaving poll workers guessing it is due to the unprecedented wave of early voting.
The latest tally of early voting in the U.S. shows that almost 102 million Americans cast their votes before Election Day. It represents 73 per cent of the total turnout for the 2016 presidential election, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.
In battlegrounds like Florida, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, some voters showed up to polling stations long before dawn to beat crowds and still faced long lines.
Results in some states hit a snag.
North Carolina opted to extend voting at four locations that were having technical issues Tuesday morning. Similarly, Hidalgo County in Texas announced on Twitter that 74 of its polling locations would remain open one hour later after a number of sites reported “laptop-check in issues.”
In 30 Las Vegas-area locations, polls stayed open for an extra hour after the Trump campaign cited reports of technical difficulties delaying those sites from opening on time. The request was heard and approved by a state court judge.
Fears of violence
Fearing unrest over the outcome, some businesses in New York, Denver and Minneapolis have boarded up windows and doors.
There were some scuffles between anti-Trump and pro-Trump attendees, according to Global News’ Washington correspondent Reggie Cecchini, but they were resolved quickly. It was a mostly festive atmosphere, with music playing and some attendees dancing and chanting about democracy.
Just yesterday, a new anti-scale fence was erected around the White House. It’s the same type of fence that was put up during protests this summer over racial injustice and inequality.
The predictions of unrest on Election Day did not come out of thin air. In the run-up to Nov. 3, tensions flared in parts of the U.S. In what was seen as a stark example of what could be to come, last week Trump supporters drove pickup trucks down a Texas highway and surrounded a bus filled with Biden campaign staff. In North Carolina over the weekend, people pepper-sprayed a group of mostly Democrats marching to polling stations.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups said they were watching closely for signs of voter intimidation, and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said it would deploy staff to 18 states.
Coronavirus at forefront
Whoever wins will be tasked with leading an anxious country grappling with a historic health crisis and the economic downturn it prompted.
The coronavirus pandemic — and Trump’s handling of it — has become the defining element of the 2020 campaign.
As Americans cast their ballots Tuesday, the total number of virus cases in the country sat above 9,344,000, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
As cases and hospitalizations climbed in recent weeks, so have deaths. More than 232,000 people had died of the disease as of early Tuesday evening.
In some ways, the campaign has been a referendum on Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As scientists sounded the alarm about a drastic spike in infections, Trump insisted the country is “rounding the turn” and recently suggested people are tired of hearing about it.
By contrast, Biden has positioned himself as a president-in-waiting in America’s hour of need. He has sought to keep the campaign focused on the federal response to the pandemic, recently launching a new digital campaign that argues Trump was “more worried about protecting his trade deal with China than he was about the virus that had already come to America.”
Trump has used some of the race’s final hours to accuse Biden of wanting to force the country back into a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
— with files from Global’s Sean Boynton, the Associated Press and Reuters
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