US election: Biden draws closer to victory as Trump presses legal threats

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WASHINGTON – Election officials on major battlefields moved forward with the count of the presidential vote on Thursday as Democrat Joe Biden urged patience and US President Donald Trump pursued legal options, insisting that the processing of ballots should be stopped. The president spent Thursday in the White House, working the phones and redoubling his efforts to cast doubt on the outcome of the race. In a series of tweets, he pushed baseless allegations of electoral misconduct and said the ongoing vote count of ballots submitted before and on election day should cease. Trump continued with an official campaign statement in all caps.

“IF YOU COUNT THE LEGAL VOTES, I EASILY WIN THE ELECTION! IF YOU COUNT ILLEGAL AND LATE VOICES, THEY MAY STEAL THE ELECTION! he argued.

Biden, meanwhile, sought to project the appearance of a president, speaking briefly to reporters after attending a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday. He assured that the count could be trusted and said “every ballot should be counted”.

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working, ”Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. Nobody, nobody else who chooses the President of the United States of America. ”

The various approaches unfolded as the nation waited to see which man would muster the 270 electoral votes needed to take the presidency. Biden’s victories in Michigan and Wisconsin put him in a dominant position, but Trump has shown no sign of giving up. It could take several days for the vote count to complete and a clear winner to emerge.

With millions of ballots yet to be compiled, Biden had already received more than 72 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s campaign has engaged in a wave of legal activity in an attempt to improve the Republican president’s chances, demanding a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Recounts across the state of Wisconsin have historically changed the vote count by just a few hundred votes; Biden led by more than 20,000 of the nearly 3.3 million ballots counted.

Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed the Trump campaign’s lawsuits on Thursday.

Biden has already won Michigan and Wisconsin. Contests in Georgia and Pennsylvania, as well as Nevada and North Carolina, were tight, with votes still counted.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately win a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous region. The AP declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday it was monitoring the vote count as it went.

“The Associated Press continues to monitor and analyze the results of the Arizona vote count as they arrive,” said Sally Buzbee, editor of the AP. “We will follow the facts in any case.”

Trump’s legal challenges faced long odds. He is expected to win multiple lawsuits in multiple states in order to stop the vote count because more than one state has not been declared.

There was no obvious reason for the Justice Department to attempt to intervene to stop a state-level vote count, unless the federal government could somehow assert a violation of federal election laws or the Constitution. The department could theoretically file a brief in support of a Trump campaign lawsuit if it believed federal concerns were at stake, but that intervention would be extraordinary.

While Trump insisted that ballot counting cease, it was unclear exactly what that included. Counting of votes received before November 3 continued, but about 20 states allow ballots to be counted if they are postmarked before November 3 but received within days. In some states, this can take up to nine days or even longer. Some of the deadline changes were made in the wake of the pandemic, but others are just routine parts of state election laws. Trump settled on Pennsylvania, where the Supreme Court refused to stop a court ruling allowing a three-day extension.

He also said he is taking fraud complaints to the courts – but most prosecutions only ask for better access by campaign observers to the places where the ballots are processed and counted. A Georgian judge dismissed the campaign’s complaint less than 12 hours after it was filed. And a Michigan judge dismissed a lawsuit against Trump over whether enough GOP challengers had access to the processing of missing ballots

Biden’s attorney, Bob Bauer, said the lawsuits were legally “without merit.” Their only purpose, he said, “is to give them the opportunity to give a false message about what is going on in the electoral process.”

It was unclear when a national winner would be determined after a long and bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy. The United States set another record for daily confirmed cases on Wednesday as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Beyond the presidency, Democrats had hoped the election would allow the party to reclaim the Senate and strengthen its majority in the House. But as the vote scrambled seats in the House and Senate, he ultimately left Congress as he started – deeply divided.

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Weissert reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press editors Jill Colvin and Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report.

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