US Election 2020: Trump's lead in Pennsylvania drops dramatically

2 weeks ago 1

Pennsylvania still has hundreds of thousands of votes left to count despite the secretary of state saying results could be returned on Thursday as Joe Biden closes the gap and President Donald Trump loses a legal bid to stop ballot counting in Philadelphia.  

Pennsylvania is among a handful of battleground states Trump and Biden are narrowly contesting as they seek the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Trump, who held a 675,000-vote lead early Wednesday, prematurely declared victory in the state, which holds 20 electoral college votes. Trump leads the voting with 49.56% of the vote, compared to Biden's 49.29%.

'We're winning Pennsylvania by a tremendous amount. We're up 690,000 votes in Pennsylvania. These aren't even close. It's not like, 'Oh, it's close,' Trump said during an appearance at the White House.

But by early Friday morning, had slipped to about 18,229 votes, according to CNN as mail in ballots from across the state continued to be counted, including some that were being counted by hand. The late counted ballots were overwhelming in Biden's favor.

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Pennsylvania still has hundreds of thousands of votes left to count despite the secretary of state saying results could be returned on Thursday as Joe Biden (left, with running mate Sen Kamala Harris) closes the gap and President Donald Trump (right) loses legal bid to stop ballot counting in Philadelphia

Trump, who held a 675,000-vote lead early Wednesday, prematurely declared victory in the state, which holds 20 electoral college votes. By Thursday evening Trump's lead had slipped to about 26,319 votes, as mail in ballots (pictured in Philadelphia) from across the state continued to be counted. The late counted ballots were overwhelming in Biden's favor

One reason for the tightening race is that under state law, elections officials are not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day. 

It's a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden's favor after Trump spent months claiming — without proof — that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

There's a possibility the race won't be decided for days and according to CNN, there are about 140,000 ballots left to count. 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.

Democrats had long considered Pennsylvania a part of their 'blue wall' — a trifecta that also includes Wisconsin and Michigan — that for years had served as a bulwark in presidential elections. In 2016, Trump won each by less than a percentage point.

Biden, who was born in Scranton, claims favorite-son status in the state and has long played up the idea that he was Pennsylvania's 'third senator' during his decades representing neighboring Delaware. He's also campaigned extensively in the state from his home in Delaware.

If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he wins the election. Currently, he has 264 electoral college votes - including Arizona despite that coming slightly back into play. Even without Arizona, if he won Pennsylvania, he would take the White House.  

Earlier on Thursday, Kathy Boockvar (left) told CNN's Jake Tapper: 'I think there's about 550,000 some odd — you know, plus or minus — ballots that are still in the process of being counted today 

Meanwhile, Trump had sued Pennsylvania to undermine whatever election result is returned. Voting was temporarily halted in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on Thursday as a result of the legal row. A judge intervened and dismissed the federal motion. People attend a 'Count Every Vote' demonstration in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday 


ARIZONA - 11 electoral college votes: Votes still being counted, deadline for result unclear

50.6% BIDEN

48.54% TRUMP

Fox and the AP gave Arizona to Biden before dawn on Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon, officials said that there were still 600,000 votes left to be counted which suggested that it could be put back in play. 

The AP is standing by its call, saying the outstanding votes are in Biden strongholds that will not flip back to Trump. 

PENNSYLVANIA - 20 electoral college votes: Result expected Friday

49.6% TRUMP 

49.2% BIDEN

GEORGIA - 16 electoral colleges votes: Result expected sometime on Thursday

49.4% TRUMP

49.4%  BIDEN

NEVADA - 6 electoral college votes: Result expected Friday

49.4% BIDEN 

48.5% TRUMP  

NORTH CAROLINA - 15 electoral college votes: Result expected some time Thursday

50.09% TRUMP

48.69% BIDEN 

Trump cannot win on Pennsylvania alone; with 214 electoral college votes, he'd still need to pick up either Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona or Nevada - the four other states where a result is yet to be officially confirmed.  

Earlier on Thursday, Kathy Boockvar told CNN's Jake Tapper: 'I think there's about 550,000 some odd — you know, plus or minus — ballots that are still in the process of being counted today.

'Some of those may have already been counted but are not yet uploaded. But yeah, they're coming in. We're getting 10,000 here, 20,000 here, counties are furiously at work.

Pennsylvania said it would continue counting mail-in ballots until Friday so long as they were post-marked from November 3.   

Meanwhile, Trump had sued Pennsylvania to undermine whatever election result is returned.

Voting was temporarily halted in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on Thursday as a result of the legal row.

A judge intervened and dismissed the federal motion.

In Nevada, there are only around 51,000 votes left to call before Friday and they say they need that much time. Arizona also says they need until Friday to deliver a result on their remaining 450,000 votes.  

The Trump campaign had a brief legal victory in Pennsylvania on Thursday when a judge ruled ballot observers can watch officials count ballots within six feet. Representatives of both campaigns were in the room to watch the counts but at a further distance because of the coronavirus. A county judge agreed with the Trump campaign, but the state Supreme Court rejected it.

The situation in Pittsburgh is complicated by about 30,000 outstanding ballots, where a vendor sent the wrong ballots to voters and had to reissue new ballots with the correct races.

Poll workers now have to examine these ballots to make sure that people don't vote twice, or, if they sent in the wrong ballot, they didn't vote in races they aren't eligible for.

They cannot legally be counted until Friday when Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh sits, swears in a special board to examine these ballots, as required by law

Trump's team of lawyers have filed lawsuits on multiple fronts – to try to stem the flow of presumably pro-Biden mail ballots into the system, and to try to force greater access for observers so they presumably can challenge more individual ballots.

They scored an initial win Thursday morning, which former Florida Secretary of State Pam Bondi, a Trump backer, brandished at a press conference.

The ruling, by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, reverses a decision by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. It lets Trumps observers 'be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process, within 6 feet, while adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing'.

On Twitter, Trump touted it as a: 'Big legal win in Pennsylvania!'

But then the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania almost instantly struck it down when Democrats appealed. 

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to the media about a court order giving Trump's campaign access to observe vote counting operations on Thursday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Trump supporters protest in front of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday

The reason of the appeal was not concern over the watching itself, experts said, but because Democrats say Republicans accepted the rules on watching before they went into effect.

Conceding that the rules could be changed after they had been agreed would open the way to more rules being changed, they argue.

That is not the end of the road for the Trump campaign. The big battle, with a greater potential to affect the count, could come in an effort to challenge an earlier Supreme Court decision allowing the state to count mail-in ballots that come in three days after Election Day.

Conservative justices had indicated that it could get another hearing should these ballots that get counted later prove decisive.

But a decisive win by Biden with votes that came in before Election Day would undercut the need for the suit – and Biden was chipping away at Trump's lead with hundreds of thousands of ballots outstanding.

Pennsylvania Democrats, mindful of potential challenges and alarmed by reports the Republican-controlled legislature might seek to intervene, have been segregating mail-ballots that come in later to prevent the state's entire result from being thrown out.

Pennsylvania's Attorney General blasted the move on Thursday.

'That question is a question of state law,' he said, noting it was decided by the state supreme court. 'It was decided that those ballots and they will be counted,' he told CNN.

'We're following the law here in Pennsylvania here. We're counting these legal votes,' he said.

Arizona results expected to be announced Friday as Secretary of State says 285,000 ballots STILL need to be counted

Katie Hobbs, Arizona's Secretary of State, said Arizona's won't be final until tomorrow night

Joe Biden's lead in Arizona has dropped to less than 47,000 votes after Donald Trump narrowed the gap following a dump of mail-in ballots on Thursday night.  

Biden remains ahead in the battleground state but only by 46,257 or 50.1 per cent, compared to Trump's 48.5 per cent, after the president secured the majority vote in the most populous county, Maricopa. 

The latest figures means Biden now leads by 1.5 percentage points, down from 2.4 points Thursday morning. 

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said there are now 285,000 ballots that still need to be counted statewide, with 200,000 of those in Maricopa County. Officials are expected to update the count by 11am Friday.  

It comes after the AP and and Fox News had both called Arizona early on Wednesday morning, claiming there was no possible way for Trump to claw it back from him - a move which was later called into question.   

Arizona holds 11 crucial electoral college votes which, when giving them to Biden now, poises him for the White House with 264 of the 270 that he needs. He would only need to win Nevada, Georgia, or North Carolina to claim victory if his Arizona lead holds. 

Nevada holds 6 electoral college votes and will be announced at noon EST. Georgia holds 16 and will be announced later. Trump is ahead in Georgia by only 18,000 votes and there are still some 60,000 votes left to count. The count is expected to be completed there today.

If Biden loses Arizona to Trump, Trump goes from 214 electoral college votes to 225. He would then only need 42 additional electoral college votes from  Georgia (16), North Carolina (15) and Pennsylvania (20) - all states in which he is leading - to claim victory, assuming he wins Alaska's three electoral college votes which he is all but guaranteed to. 

The delay prolongs an already excruciating wait to find out who will be the next President for frustrated Americans and people all over the world who are now asking why it is taking so long to reach a conclusion. 

There has been no simple answer so far. In some states it's because the margin is incredibly tight. In others, it's because mail-in ballots haven't yet arrived and can be counted for days yet. Official counts are never normally returned on election day or even in the immediate aftermath. The election is always called instead by a TV or news network based on analysis of possible outcomes. 

But none are calling it this year, because the race in the remaining swing states has been so tight.   

As the excruciating wait dragged on on Thursday morning, Katie Hobbs, Arizona's Secretary of State, said the process would simply take as long as it takes. 

'There are just under 300,000 votes left to count in Maricopa County which is two thirds of the voting population.  Statewide, just under 450,000 votes left to count so we're getting there, we have said from the beginning this take's time. We're going to focus on making sure every valid vote counts. 

'I haven't gotten an estimate from Maricopa County about how long it's going to take them to get through the ballots. It's not looking like today - probably closer to tomorrow that we'll be looking at getting through those ballots,' she told Good Morning America.

At 5pm EST, she said the same number still had to be counted and that Maricopa County were only getting through 140,000 a day - that means it could take another two days.  

Biden leads in Nevada by 11,400 votes as Trump's team files lawsuit alleging ineligible votes were cast

Joe Biden is now leading in Nevada by more than 11,000 votes as of Thursday night as President Donald Trump's campaign filed a federal lawsuit in the state, alleging that ineligible votes were cast in the Las Vegas area.

About 75 per cent of the Nevada votes are in and Biden is leading by 11,438 votes, which is only about 1 per cent, as of Thursday night, according to CNN.

But there are outstanding about 50,000 ballots left to be counted in the coming days. Under state law, they can still be accepted so long as they were postmarked by the November 3.

Trump narrowly lost Nevada in 2016 as the state has trended toward the Democrats in the past decade. The last Republican presidential contender to win the state was George W. Bush in 2004.

Nevada has delayed giving its election result, saying they need until at least tomorrow to count the remaining votes, as the country and the world wait in agony to find out who the next president will be. 

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign's complaint filed in US District Court resurrected an effort abandoned just hours earlier in Nevada state court — a court order to stop the Clark County Registrar of Voters from using an optical scanning machine to process ballots and validate voter signatures.   

Joe Biden is now leading in Nevada by more than 11,000 votes as of Thursday night as President Donald Trump's campaign filed a federal lawsuit in the state, alleging that ineligible votes were cast in the Las Vegas area. Trump supporters are seen demonstrating in Las Vegas on Thursday 

The federal filing cites experiences of a woman who said Thursday she was turned away from voting in person because a mailed ballot had been cast with her signature and a political strategist TV commentator who said he was denied an opportunity to observe ballot counting late on election night. 

Trump Nevada campaign co-chairman Adam Laxalt said the new filing 'highlights ongoing voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement in Clark County'.

State Attorney General Aaron Ford called it 'a Hail Mary' and 'another opportunity to undermine the confidence in this election' while ballots are still being counted.

Ford noted a federal judge dismissed in September an effort to block the state law that let mailed ballots go out to each of Nevada's more than 1.7 million active registered voters.

'When they can't stop you from voting, they try to stop your vote from counting,' he said.

If Biden claims Nevada today, he will win another 6 electoral college points, giving him 270 when factoring in the 11 that come from Arizona.

Arizona was called for him on Wednesday morning by Fox and the AP but with 450,000 votes still outstanding, it remains in play for Trump. If Biden loses Arizona, he has 259 electoral college votes. He'd need another 11 from either Georgia - which holds 16 - North Carolina - which holds 15 - or Pennsylvania - which holds 20 - to win.

It's unclear when North Carolina will announce, but it is expected to go to Trump as it did in 2016. The race in Nevada has been tight. For most of the morning, Biden led by only around 7,000 votes there.  

Trump's team is crying fraud. They say they have 'evidence' that 'tens of thousands of votes' had been cast there fraudulently. 

'We are confident that when all legal votes are tallied -- and only legal votes are tallied -- President Trump will win the state of Nevada,' Former Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell told Fox News on Thursday morning. 

'The reality is transparency is not political. Ballots are not automatically legal votes until they're checked. We are not being able to check.

'There's a 30 day residency requirement in the state of Nevada. If you haven't been in the state for 30 days it is illegal to vote. We are filing this federal lawsuit to protect legal voters. 

'It is unacceptable in this country to have illegal votes counted. That is what's happening in the state of Nevada,' Grenell claimed at a press conference. 

Nevada law states that to be eligible to vote, a person has to have been a resident of the state for at least 30 days before the election. 

That does not necessarily mean that they have to have been physically in the state for the 30 days preceding the election.  

Trump's people also claim that many of the votes in Nevada came from people who no longer live there, or were cast under the names of deceased people. 

Georgia's election still too close to call as Biden moves neck-and-neck with Trump with 16,000 votes left to be counted

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are just about neck and neck in Georgia after the president's lead dipped below 2,000 votes in the latest ballot count on Thursday night.  

Trump remains ahead but only by a slim margin of 1,775, putting both candidates in equal standing in terms of percentage points with each holding 49.4 per cent of the vote. 

There are now approximately 14,000 ballots that still need to be processed in the state in addition to the 8,900 overseas and military ballots that are due to arrive by 5pm on Friday. 

Of the outstanding votes, about 5,000 will come from Clayton County, a largely democratic county, which are expected to be counted by midnight, the county's board of elections directors, Shauna Dozier told CNN.   

Trump's standing in Georgia has swiftly weakened in the last 24 hours, having been up 9,000 votes on Thursday morning and 18,000 on Wednesday night.  

Biden could win the election with Georgia, which amounts to 16 electoral college points, if he holds on to his lead in Arizona

The result in Arizona is not expected until Friday because there are still 285,000 votes left to count. About 200,000 of those will come from Maricopa County, where officials are expected to update the count by 11am.

Officials in both Arizona and Nevad - where only 51,000 need to be counted - say they need at least another day to get through them and get through them accurately, despite the fact that they've rattled through many, many more votes in the last few days alone. 

Why it is taking so long to reach a conclusion is a question that millions of frustrated Americans are asking and it's being heard around the world. There is no simple answer for it. 

In one Georgia county, there was a corrupt memory card on one scanner which meant 400 had to be recounted. Officials in some counties are also using paper ballots for the first time in 20 years because they voted earlier this year that machine voting was not secretive enough. They are then scanning all of the paper votes which is an 'arduous' process, it was said on Thursday. 

In some states, it's because the race is simply tighter than it was in the last election so is difficult for news and TV networks - who ordinarily call elections - to make a decisive projection. Another reason is that there are more mail-in ballots this year than in elections gone by because of COVID-19. They are taking longer to pour in and different states had different rules on when those could start being counted. 

In any event, Trump is already contesting the results in several states. He says there has been voter fraud in Nevada, with people sending in ballots under dead residents' names, and from non-residents. 

In Georgia, he says they weren't able to verify that the count was being done properly.  

In Wisconsin, he is also demanding a recount, and in Michigan and Pennsylvania, he wants the counting to be halted.  

Trump appeared in public for the first time in more than 36 hours on Thursday, speaking in the White House briefing room, where he made unfounded accusations that the presidential election was being stolen from him.

In almost every state that Biden has won, Trump's lead has been strong at first then shrank as more ballots- specifically mail-in ballots - have been tallied up. 

He thinks it is suspicious. 

Speaking on Thursday, Georgia's Voting System Implementation Manager, Gabriel Sterling, said there was nothing suspicious or strange about the process, but that elections were never normally so close so it doesn't always have to come down to an official count. 

'We can't know how long the process will take. We hope to have clarity but "done" is a very relative term at this point.

'As we've been stating for weeks and months, it's going to take time.  The effort here is to make sure everybody's legal vote is counted properly.

'The issue we have in Georgia is it's a close vote. There's other states that have more votes to count than we do but it's a wide margin so nobody cares,' Sterling said. 

He said he did anticipate giving a result by the end of the day. 

In Georgia, Superior Court judge James Bass said there was 'no evidence' to the Trump suit's claims that a 53 ballots arrived late and got mixed with other ballots. In Michigan, Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled against the Trump campaign's push to stop the count in order to gain additional access for its observers. 'I have no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,' she said.

'All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud,' Trump tweeted Thursday amid the nationwide blitz of court challenges. 'Plenty of proof - just check out the Media. WE WILL WIN! America First!'

Trump's team scored a win in a Pennsylvania court, but not on an issue that appears likely to sway a race with thousands of ballots being processed.

'The Trump campaign called it a 'major victory,' but state officials appealed, saying it 'jeopardizes both the safety of the City Defendants’ canvass, plus the privacy of voters.'

Even if the Trump legal efforts don't ultimately prevail, they are already succeeding in slowing down the voting process, and Trump's allies are using them to claim Trump has seized an 'overwhelming victory' among 'verifiable' ballots. 

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