Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, won Michigan and its 16 votes, the Associated Press announced, flipping yet another critical battleground state that Donald Trump won four years ago and placing him in a comfortable lead, with only 6 electoral votes shy of the presidency.

Meanwhile, the incumbent president, Trump, vowed to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on the inconclusive election.

Trump’s campaign also filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania — which is yet undecided — and Michigan, laying the groundwork for contesting the outcome in the battleground states that could determine whether he gets another four years in the White House. The campaign also announced it had requested a recount in Wisconsin, which went to Biden with less than a percentage point.

Michigan is a critical battleground state that helped deliver Trump the presidency four years ago, along with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Earlier, the AP had called Wisconsin for Biden, good for 10 electoral votes, after election officials in the state said all outstanding ballots had been counted, save for a few hundred in one township and an expected small number of provisional ballots.

It was still unclear when or how quickly a winner could be determined. Hundreds of thousands of votes were outstanding in Pennsylvania, while Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Alaska also remain to be called.

However, the intense jockeying for the states was overshadowed by Trump’s extraordinary early-morning declaration from the White House calling for outstanding ballots not to be counted.

By late Wednesday, neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. Electoral College votes are assigned to each state, in part based on their population. Trump made premature claims of victories in several key states and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days after the election.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted that his state had over 1 million ballots to be counted and that he “promised Pennsylvanians that we would count every vote and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Trump suggested those ballots shouldn’t be counted. But Biden, briefly appearing in front of supporters in Delaware, urged patience, saying the election “ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted”.

“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”

Arizona

Democrat Joe Biden won Arizona and its 11 electoral votes, serving a huge blow to Trump’s chances for reelection. Arizona has backed a Democratic presidential candidate only once in the last 72 years.

Biden’s campaign had focused on Arizona as part of its expanded battleground map through the Sun Belt, citing demographic changes, new residents and realignment away from Republicans among key suburban voters.

Arizona is among the more than half a dozen states that will help determine which candidate gets the 270 electoral votes to capture the White House.

Texas

Trump won Texas and its 38 electoral votes despite a furious, late push by Democrats to turn America’s biggest red state blue.

An avalanche of early votes fed Democrats’ high hopes of ending decades of losses in Texas, where polls showed Joe Biden running unusually close. But Trump carried Texas for a second straight year.

Trump won Texas by 9 percentage points in 2016 and all but took a win here for granted. He didn’t swing through Texas for campaign rallies or swamp television airwaves, and his conservative allies on the ground scoffed at Biden’s chances as a far reach.

Florida

Trump also won Florida and its 29 electoral votes, the biggest prize among the perennial battlegrounds and a state crucial to his reelection hopes.

A victory in Florida means re-election is within Trump’s grasp. A loss in the state would have made it nearly impossible for Trump to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to retain the White House.A Democratic supporter holds a bed pan with “Dump Trump” on it, on Tuesday in Omaha. — AP

Maine

President Trump won one of Maine’s four electoral votes, just as he did in 2016.

Trump carried the state’s 2nd Congressional District, the more rural and conservative of Maine’s congressional districts.

While Biden easily carried the state itself, Maine is one of only two states that divide their electoral votes.

Biden won the 1st Congressional District and the statewide tally, good for three electoral votes. Trump’s victory in the 2nd Congressional District means he wins one electoral vote.

Results pour in

Biden won California, Oregon and Washington state, while President Donald Trump won Idaho.

California, Oregon and Washington are all liberal states, while Idaho is conservative.

California has 55 electoral votes, the biggest haul of any state. It’s also the home of Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. She served as the San Francisco district attorney and the state’s attorney general before winning election to the Senate in 2016.

Trump won Ohio and its 18 electoral votes, holding on to a battleground state where the race against Biden had tightened in recent months.

The Republican nominee comfortably carried the Midwestern state four years ago, but polls heading into the final weeks showed Biden well within range, forcing the president to spend more time in the state than anyone expected.

Trump also won four of Nebraska’s five electoral votes, while Biden won one electoral vote from the state. Biden’s win in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Omaha, is a flip from 2016, when Trump narrowly won it against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Early wins

Soon after the polling time ended, AP reported that President Trump had won Kentucky, and Biden had carried Vermont.

There were also some predictable victories for each candidate, with Trump taking Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma and Biden winning Massachusetts, his home state of Delaware and Virginia, a former battleground that has become a Democratic stronghold.

Trump also took West Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, Biden won Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, New York, the District of Columbia and Colorado.

Record-setting polling

People fill out their ballots on Election Day at a voting centre for people that need to register or get other assistance in the vote-by-mail state in Seattle, Washington on November 3. — AFP

Voters, many wearing masks and maintaining social distancing to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, experienced long lines in a few locales and short waits in many other places. There were no signs of disruptions or violence at polling sites, as some officials had feared.

The winner — who may not be determined for days — will lead a nation strained by a pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people and left millions more jobless, racial tensions and political polarisation that has only worsened during a vitriolic campaign.

Control of the Senate is at stake, too: Democrats needed to net three seats if Biden captured the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. The House was expected to remain under Democratic control.

A new anti-scaling fence was erected around the White House, and in downtowns from New York to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest.

With the worst public health crisis in a century still fiercely present, the pandemic — and Trump’s handling of it — was the inescapable focus for 2020.

For Trump, the election stood as a judgment on his four years in office, a term in which he bent Washington to his will, challenged faith in its institutions and changed how America was viewed across the globe.

Rarely trying to unite a country divided along lines of race and class, he has often acted as an insurgent against the government he led while undermining the nation’s scientists, bureaucracy and media.

At the White House on Tuesday night, more than 100 family members, friends, donors and staff were set to watch returns from the East Room.

Trump was watching votes come in upstairs in the residence with a few close aides. Most top campaign officials were monitoring returns from a “war room” set up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Biden spent the day last-minute campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born, and in Philadelphia with a couple of local stops in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was spending Election Night.

The president began his day on an upbeat note, predicting that he’d do even better than in 2016. But during a midday visit to his campaign headquarters, he spoke in a gravelly, subdued tone.US President Donald Trump points as he speaks to staff members and reporters as he visits his presidential campaign headquarters on Election Day in nearby Arlington, Virginia on Nov 3. — Reuters

“Winning is easy,” Trump told reporters. “Losing is never easy, not for me it’s not.”

Biden, on the other hand, took a more cautious approach. “I’m superstitious about predicting what an outcome’s gonna be until it happens […] but I’m hopeful,” said Biden. “It’s just so uncertain […] you can’t think of an election in the recent past where so many states were up for grabs.”

With the coronavirus now surging anew, voters ranked the pandemic and the economy as top concerns in the race between Trump and Biden, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.

Voters were especially likely to call the public health crisis the nation’s most important issue, with the economy following close behind. Fewer named health care, racism, law enforcement, immigration or climate change

The survey found that Trump’s leadership loomed large in voters’ decision-making. Nearly two-thirds of voters said their vote was about Trump — either for him or against him.

The momentum from early voting carried into Election Day, as an energised electorate produced long lines at polling sites throughout the country.

Voters braved worries of the coronavirus, threats of polling place intimidation and expectations of long lines caused by changes to voting systems, but appeared undeterred as turnout appeared it would easily surpass the 139 million ballots cast four years ago.

No major problems arose on Tuesday, outside the typical glitches of a presidential election: Some polling places opened late, robocalls provided false information to voters in Iowa and Michigan, and machines or software malfunctioned in some counties in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas.

The cybersecurity agency at the Department of Homeland Security said there were no outward signs by midday of any malicious activity.

The record-setting early vote — and legal skirmishing over how it would be counted — drew unsupported allegations of fraud from Trump, who had repeatedly refused to guarantee he would honour the election’s result.

Referendum on Trump

Supporters of both candidates called the election a referendum on Trump and his tumultuous first term. No US president has lost a re-election bid since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Trump is seeking another term in office after a chaotic four years marked by the coronavirus crisis, an economy battered by pandemic shutdowns, an impeachment drama, inquiries into Russian election interference, US racial tensions and contentious immigration policies.

Biden is looking to win the presidency on his third attempt after a five-decade political career including eight years as vice president under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Biden has promised a renewed effort to fight the public health crisis, fix the economy and bridge America’s political divide. The country this year was also shaken by months of protests against racism and police brutality.

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