• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Who is winning the US cliff hanger election and what you should know

American elections

Tensions at ballot tallying stations in key states across the US are rising as President Donald Trump shares blatant misinformation about the count.

Despite Trump’s efforts to spread lies about electoral fraud, his challenger Joe Biden’s path to the White House is still within sight.

Just a handful of states are yet to be called, but these are key to determining the outcome of the election.

Neither candidate has yet reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim victory, but Trump’s route to a second term has narrowed significantly as the count progresses.

Here’s where we stand right now.

What’s happening in the remaining states?

Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes). Biden is steadily eating away at Trump’s lead. Trump’s lead shrunk from 319,000 on Wednesday afternoon to around 50,000 by Thursday night, but officials have warned of a possibility that the race may not be decided for days. If there is less than a half percentage point difference between Biden and Trump’s vote total, state law dictates that a recount must be held.

Nevada (6 electoral votes). Biden is currently maintaining a narrow lead in Nevada, currently sitting just 11,000 votes ahead of Trump.

Arizona (11 electoral votes). Biden’s lead is narrowing in Arizona. As of Friday morning, his advantage has contracted from 93,000 to around 48,000.

Georgia (16 electoral votes). Trump remains in the lead in Georgia, but his advantage is also shrinking rapidly. Trump prematurely declared he was winning the state early Wednesday morning, but by late Thursday his lead over Biden had narrowed to less than 2,000 votes.

North Carolina (15 electoral votes). The count continues in North Carolina, with Trump largely expected to win. He currently leads by more than 76,000 votes, with around 5% of the vote uncounted – but state officials have said a full result would not be known until next week.

The state allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday to be counted if they are received by November 12.

What Are Biden and Trump’s paths to winning?

Biden still has a much clearer route to presidency than Trump. He could claim victory by winning Pennsylvania alone, or two out of the trio of Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Trump’s options are more limited – he needs to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia while overtaking Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.

Most major US television networks currently give Biden a 253 to 214 lead in Electoral College votes, after he captured the crucial states of Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday.

What has Trump said?

The incumbent delivered a rambling speech full of misinformation on Thursday evening, during which he falsely claimed he had won the “legal votes”.

His comments were met with instant backlash, with several major US broadcasters cutting away from the speech to make it clear that there was no evidence for his claims.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump lied, adding without evidence that there had been “historical interference from big media, big money and big tech”.

The president also raised several non-specific issues with postal voting, referring vaguely to “a pipe burst”, “people are using binoculars” and “paper on all of the windows”.

In another mark of just how misleading his speech really was, Twitter marked several clips posted by the president himself with a content warning stating: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”

The press conference was the first for Trump since early Wednesday, when he addressed the media as the first wave of election results was being reported.

Trump at the time baselessly declared victory and falsely claimed he’d already won several states in which a clear winner had yet to be determined. He also, without evidence, suggested that the ongoing counting of votes amounted to “fraud” and should be halted.

Since then, the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in several states to halt vote counting and disqualify ballots. Judges in at least two states have ruled against his campaign.

What has Biden said?

Joe Biden wrote on Twitter shortly after Trump’s White House appearance: “No one is going to take our democracy away from us”.

In earlier remarks from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden expressed confidence he would win and urged calm as votes were tallied.

“Democracy’s sometimes messy,” Biden said. “It sometimes requires a little patience as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years in a system of governance that has been the envy of the world.”

The Biden campaign said Thursday morning that it believes “victory is imminent,” as it wrote on a slide in a video briefing.

“Our data shows that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said.

Why is the count taking so long?

Voting concluded as scheduled on Tuesday night, but it’s not unusual for many states to take days to finish counting ballots.

The presidential election is really 50 different statewide elections, each of them governed by state laws which say different things about how the vote should be counted.

Covid-19 also means that huge numbers of people also voted by mail, making it likely the count will take longer than usual.

What is going on at the polling stations?

As the count has rumbled on, the atmosphere at the polls across the country has become increasingly tense.

Trump has fuelled baseless conspiracy theories of wrongdoing during the counts, and Republicans have issued conflicting calls for some states to “stop the count”, while demanding others “count every vote”. There is no evidence that states have stopped counting prematurely.

In Detroit, about 30 observers, mostly Republicans, were barred from entering a vote-counting hall by election officials who cited indoor capacity restrictions imposed to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Police were called to enforce the decision.

Many of those excluded stood outside the hall voicing their protest and singing “God Bless America” while a second group of Republican observers who were denied entry held a prayer circle nearby. They also broke into chants of “stop the vote” and “stop the count.”

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, police are reportedly investigating an alleged plot to attack the Pennsylvania Convention Centre, where votes are being counted, on Thursday night.

6 ABC reported that police had received a tip about a group – potentially a family – driving up from Virginia to unleash an attack at the Convention Centre.

No injuries were reported, but media on the scene said they witnessed a man being taken into custody, though it is not yet clear if he was linked to the tip.

Police told 6 ABC they had recovered a weapon and believe they recovered a vehicle involved.

Misinformation continues to spread rapidly online, mobilising protests on the ground.

One nationwide organising effort centred on a Facebook group called “Stop the Steal,” which had more than 360,000 members by the time Facebook shut it down Thursday afternoon, less than a day after its creation.

The group promoted more than a dozen protest events in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina from Wednesday through Saturday — the majority of which remained on Facebook’s platform even after the main group was removed.