US election: Fight for presidency between Donald Trump and Joe Biden continues

The United States, and the world, was last night still waiting to find out who will lead the most powerful nation on earth.

Both candidates, incumbent US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, continue to claim the advantage in a fiercely-contested election.

One, Biden, last night had a clearer path to the Oval Office, and in a TV address said he and running mate Kamala Harris had already held briefings on Covid-19 and the economy, as the US records record daily cases – including yesterday Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Almost 240,000 Americans have died of the virus, and the country hit a new record for a third straight day on Friday when almost 130,000 new Covid cases were announced.

“We are going to win this race,” Biden said in his statement yesterday afternoon, also noting 74.3 million Americans had voted for him so far.

That’s the most votes anyone running for president has ever received, topping former US president Barack Obama’s tally of 69.5 million in 2008. Just over 70.2 million have voted for Trump.

The former vice-president has secured 264 electoral college votes to Trump’s 213, with 270 needed to win the presidency under the US’ state-by-state voting system, and was leading his rival as votes continue to be counted in four battleground states – Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The gap between the candidates is about 22,000 in Nevada with about 131,000 votes remaining, 28,000 in Pennsylvania (83,000 remaining) and 29,000 in Arizona (180,000 remaining).

Ballots in Georgia, which last night had the narrowest margin – with Biden ahead by just 4400 votes, will be recounted, the state’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger said.

Georgia counties have finished counting early and absentee ballots and are focused on provisional ballots, the Washington Post reported last night. It wasn’t clear how many provisional ballots are still to be counted.

Trump has continued to claim, without evidence, widespread voter fraud relating to
mail-in ballots – which tend to be counted last and have tended to favour Biden – and vowed to use every possible legal avenue, including the Supreme Court, to stay in office.

“They are trying to steal an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room on Friday.

The president’s campaign’s flurry of legal activity included filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, but judges in all three states quickly swatted down legal action and a federal judge who was asked to stop vote counts in Philadelphia instead forced the two sides to reach an agreement, without an order over the number of observers allowed.

Trump has also been swamping voters with emails and texts with urgent demands and even veiled threats to “step up” with money to fight “Democrats’ plan to steal the election”.

A Twitter account @TrumpEmail, published in the US media outlet The Daily Beast, reported the president’s campaign had flooded subscribers’ inboxes with more than a dozen demands via a “Support the Election Defence Fund”.

One of the emails addressed to “Friend” said: “This is your FINAL NOTICE. So far you’ve ignored our emails asking you to join us in DEFENDING THE ELECTION.

“You’ve ignored Team Trump, Eric, Lara, Don, the Vice President AND you’ve even ignored the President of the United States.”

According to the fine print in the donation request, 60 per cent of all donations will go to offsetting debts in Trump’s election campaign.

Thousands of Americans have already taken to the streets to call either to “Count every vote” or “Stop the count” and the division has at times taken a dark turn – two armed men were arrested on Friday near a vote counting centre in Philadelphia they were alleged to be planning to attack.

A bomb threat at a shopping mall next to the same vote counting centre also led to evacuations yesterday.

In his TV address, Biden called for patience as every vote was counted.

“I know watching these vote tallies on TV moves very slow and is as low as it goes, it can be numbing.

“But never forget, the tallies are not just numbers, they represent votes and voters.”

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