The U.S. presidential election remained unsettled Thursday, with Democratic challenger Joe Biden nearing an Electoral College majority and President Donald Trump demanding that the vote count be stopped while Republicans are filing lawsuits alleging vote tabulation irregularities.
Biden leads in the Electoral College count 253-213, with a majority of 270 needed to claim the presidency for a new four-year term. But vote counting is still underway in four states that will decide the election -- Georgia and Pennsylvania in the eastern part of the country and the adjoining Western states of Arizona and Nevada.
Where things stand
Trump is ahead in Georgia and Pennsylvania and Biden is leading in the other two, with both of their leads indecisive.
In the U.S. Electoral College system, the popular vote winner in each state — with two exceptions, Maine and Nebraska — receives all of that state's electoral votes, which are allocated on the basis of population.
If Biden can hold his vote leads in Arizona, with its 11 electors, and Nevada with six, he will reach the 270 Electoral College majority and would become the country’s 46th president at his inauguration in January, no matter the outcome in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
But the vote count is close in all four states. In Georgia, with 16 electoral votes at stake, Trump holds a 15,000-vote lead with more than 50,000 ballots yet to be counted.
In Pennsylvania, Trump leads by 116,000 votes, but a bigger total remains to be counted. Twenty electoral votes are at stake.
Biden now leads by 12,000 votes in Nevada, which has six electors, and by 68,000 in Arizona, which has 11 electors. Many more votes are yet to be counted in both states.
Trump still has a path to victory if he can take back the states where Biden is leading and also capture Georgia and Pennsylvania. The president is also leading in two other states that have not yet been called -- Alaska and North Carolina
Biden leads the national popular vote 71.8 million to 68.1 million, but it is the Electoral College that will determine the winner after a contentious, months-long campaign.
On Twitter, Trump demanded that the vote count be stopped, but if the vote count were frozen in its late Thursday morning state, Trump would lose, becoming the third U.S. president in the last four decades to lose re-election after a single term.
Lawyers representing Trump and Republicans filed lawsuits alleging vote counting irregularities and demanding that the counting of mail-in ballots be halted in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead was dwindling as more mail-in ballots were counted.
The vote count across the U.S. has been slowed by the vast number of mail-in ballots -- more than 101 million – which were cast before Tuesday’s official Election Day and which are taking longer to count. Many people who voted by mail said they wanted to avoid long lines at polling stations on Tuesday and coming face to face with others amid the country’s unchecked coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s campaign urged voting by mail and the result is that his vote count has swelled in numerous states in the post-election day ballot counting. Trump mostly urged Election Day in-person voting by Republicans, claiming without evidence that mail-in voting would lead to an election rigged against him.
Trump lawyers also called for a recount in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin, where Biden was projected as winner of the state’s 10 electors on Wednesday. They contended there were irregularities at some voting stations.
Trump, Biden react to results so far
Trump claimed victory in the early hours of Wednesday, but Biden has stopped short of saying he has won.
“I’m not here to declare that we've won,” Biden said Wednesday. “But I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”