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US election LIVE updates: Joe Biden maintains lead over Donald Trump as Arizona, Michigan vote-counting centres swamped by US President’s supporters

For plenty of Africans, US President Donald Trump’s actions in the aftermath of the US election have been a cause for dark humour. But others have reacted with dismay or disbelief.

In countries whose own recent elections were marred by accusations of cheating and violence, some expressed alarm about the signal that Trump’s premature declaration of victory, allegations of fraud and flurry of lawsuits might send to their own leaders.

"Trump is setting a bad example for Africa and a country like ours. You cannot proclaim yourself in an election where you are a candidate when justice exists,” said Mory Keïta, a car parts dealer in Guinea.

Dozens were killed in protests before and after the West African country’s president won a controversial third term last month.

"It’s a total disgrace,” said Bachir Diallo, a Guinean mining executive. "Such a mess is worthy of a banana republic.”

As the vote count pointed towards a victory for Democrat Joe Biden, others felt a sharp sense of irony seeing events play out in a developed nation whose authorities regularly admonish African leaders for not respecting democratic norms.

When the US Embassy in Guinea’s neighbour Ivory Coast called on Wednesday for dialogue and commitment to the rule of law following another disputed presidential election, it triggered an avalanche of reactions.

"I believe the playground response is ‘why you talking about yourself?'” one Twitter user retorted.

"What we are seeing from Trump is not different from what we have been seeing in African politics. However, it is terrifying to see this in America,” said Tito Kisiya, a sales executive in Tanzania, whose presidential election last week drew criticism from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Even so, some who followed the US election found positives to take away.

"It’s calm, and there is no violence,” said Viviane Asseke, a schoolteacher in Ivory Coast, where more than 10 people have died in clashes since the president won a third term that opponents consider unconstitutional.

"It makes you want to vote.”

Reuters

It’s a nail-biter in Georgia, where just 7500 ballots are left to be counted in Fulton County – the most populous county in the state – according to local news station CBS46.

Fulton County’s director of registration and elections Richard Barron has told the network officials will probably finish counting votes by daybreak (right now, it’s 5.30am in Georgia). We could therefore have a result in Georgia as early as 11pm (AEDT).

Democratic and Republican representatives review absentee ballots at the Fulton County election center.

Democratic and Republican representatives review absentee ballots at the Fulton County election center. Credit:AP

Trump is currently marginally ahead in the state. With 95 per cent of votes reported, Trump currently has 49.6 per cent of the vote, while Biden has 49.1 per cent. But Fulton County includes most of Atlanta and is a reliable Democratic stronghold.

Leading up to election day, there was not much Georgia’s Democrats and Republicans agreed upon, except for a prediction that the day would be a dramatic one, given the rising strength of Georgia Democrats.

Absentee ballots stacked up at the Fulton County election center.

Absentee ballots stacked up at the Fulton County election center.Credit:AP

Associated Press has already called Arizona for Biden. If he prevails in Georgia, he surpasses the crucial 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the White House.

Most major US news organisations have not yet called Arizona – worth 11 Electoral College votes – for Biden.

Election workers review absentee ballots in Fulton County.

Election workers review absentee ballots in Fulton County. Credit:AP

It’s nearly 5.30am on the east coast of the United States. As Americans start to wake, we’re hoping to soon have news from some of the final four battleground states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada.

On Thursday AEDT, Democrat Joe Biden moved closer to victory in the US presidential race as election officials tallied votes in the key states that will determine the outcome and protesters took to the streets. Here’s what else happened on the day after the 2020 US election.

  • President Donald Trump alleged fraud without providing evidence, filed lawsuits and called for recounts in a race yet to be decided more two days after polls closed.
  • Tensions were rising across the country. About 200 of Trump’s supporters, some armed with rifles and handguns, gathered outside an election office in Phoenix, Arizona, following unsubstantiated rumours that votes were not being counted.
  • In Detroit, officials blocked about 30 people, mostly Republicans, from entering a vote-counting facility amid unfounded claims that the vote count in Michigan was fraudulent.
  • Anti-Trump protesters in other cities demanded that vote counting continue. Police arrested 11 people and seized weapons in Portland, Oregon after reports of rioting, while arrests were also made in New York, Denver and Minneapolis. Over 100 events are planned across the country between Wednesday and Saturday.
  • The presidential race will come down to close contests in four states. Biden holds a narrow lead in Nevada while Trump watched his slim advantage fade in must-win states Pennsylvania and Georgia as mail-in and absentee votes were counted. Trump clung to a narrow lead in North Carolina as well, another must-win for him. Trump must win the states where he is still ahead plus either Arizona or Nevada to triumph and avoid becoming the first incumbent US president to lose a re-election bid since fellow Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.
  • Biden, 77, predicted victory on Wednesday and launched a website to begin the transition to a Democratic-controlled White House in January.
  • Trump’s campaign fought to keep his chances alive with a call for a Wisconsin recount – which he would be entitled to given the slim margin there – as well as lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop vote counting. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in charge of elections, called the Trump team’s lawsuit "frivolous”.
  • Trump’s campaign also filed a lawsuit in Georgia to require that Chatham County, which includes the city of Savannah, separate and secure late-arriving ballots to ensure they are not counted. It also asked the US Supreme Court to allow Trump to join a pending lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Republicans over whether the battleground state should be permitted to accept late-arriving ballots.

Reuters

Let’s pause for a moment to look back at on Wednesday (US time) – the day after election day – as vote counters worked tirelessly to process the ballots while demonstrators gathered in the streets demanding officials count every vote.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, leads a press conference early Wednesday morning (US time) claiming without evidence that Democrats have tried to rig the vote count in Pennsylvania.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, leads a press conference early Wednesday morning (US time) claiming without evidence that Democrats have tried to rig the vote count in Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

Kathleen Myers sits while holding a sign in support of those taking part in a Count Every Vote rally.

Kathleen Myers sits while holding a sign in support of those taking part in a Count Every Vote rally.Credit:AP

Joe Biden addresses the nation, confident that he will win the White House.

Joe Biden addresses the nation, confident that he will win the White House.Credit:Getty

Demonstrators march down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park in New York.

Demonstrators march down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park in New York.Credit:Bloomberg

Trump supporters rally outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trump supporters rally outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix, Arizona.Credit:AP

Election challengers yell at workers inside the central counting board in Detroit.

Election challengers yell at workers inside the central counting board in Detroit. Credit:AP

An elections worker put his head in his hands in the final hours of counting on Wednesday night in Detroit.

An elections worker put his head in his hands in the final hours of counting on Wednesday night in Detroit.Credit:AP

A riot was declared in Portland, Oregon, and protesters took to the streets in Seattle demanding that every vote be counted.

A riot was declared in Portland, Oregon, and protesters took to the streets in Seattle demanding that every vote be counted. Credit:AP

A protester is arrested in Portland.

A protester is arrested in Portland.Credit:AP

US futures and world shares surged on Thursday local time as investors awaited the outcome of the US presidential election and embraced the upside of more gridlock in Washington.

European markets opened higher after a day of gains in Asia, while the fate of the US presidency remained undecided as neither President Donald Trump or Democrat nominee Joe Biden had secured the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.

Analysts say a Congress likely once again split between a Democratic House and a Republican Senate is expected to keep US tax and other policies relatively stable amid legislative stalemates. And share prices tend to rise, regardless of who is in the White House.

Taking reassurance where they can, "markets have been happy to presume that this Democratic White … House and Republican Senate is the ‘Goldilocks’ outcome. In other words, a ‘Goldilocks Gridlock’,” Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

An expectation that Biden has a chance of winning also has raised hopes that US foreign policies might be "more clear”, said Jackson Wong, asset management director of Amber Hill Capital. He added: "Investors are cheering for that. That’s why the markets are performing well.”

Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight has an interesting theory about when the election can be called. He says pundits cannot rely on a result in Nevada to declare a winner.

Many outlets – including the Associated Press which we rely on – called Arizona for Biden on Wednesday afternoon AEDT. Those 11 Electoral College votes helped to propel him to within a whisker of the White House by Thursday afternoon AEDT, with 264 votes.

If Biden prevails in the state of Nevada, that would award him the extra six Electoral College votes he needs to reach the crucial 270 target.

But Silver believes Arizona’s 11 Electoral Votes should not be included in the tally – not yet, anyway. As we reported earlier, Trump is gaining ground in the state thanks to a surge in Republican votes.

"For the time being, if you made the mistake [in my opinion] of calling AZ [Arizona] in the first place, you don’t want [it] being part of what gets Biden over the top to 270,” Silver tweeted.

You could call the election based on the Electoral College votes gained in Georgia and Nevada, Silver says, but the race in Georgia is so close that a recount is likely.

He predicts most major networks in the US will call the race if and when Biden overtakes Trump in the vote count in Pennsylvania.

Like most Australian media outlets, we use the Associated Press’ results tracker to bring you the most accurate information.

Here’s some information from their website about how they call the votes, which you might like to read in full.

"AP does not make projections or name apparent or likely winners. If our race callers cannot definitively say a candidate has won, we do not engage in speculation. AP did not call the closely contested race in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore – we stood behind our assessment that the margin in Florida made it too close to call.

"Only when AP is fully confident a race has been won – defined most simply as the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory – will we make a call. In the race for president in 2016, that moment came at 2.29am ET the day after election day.”

Finally sitting down to catch up on the day’s US election news? Here’s the best of our coverage today from US correspondent Matthew Knott and our talented world team:

  • Joe Biden is on course to become the 46th president of the United States, as swathes of early votes for the Democrat hopeful inched him ahead of an intransigent President Donald Trump in most of the remaining battleground states. But as Biden gained ground on the second day of the election count, Trump continued to falsely claim that the election was being "stolen”. Report by Matthew Knott
  • As Australia slept the state of Wisconsin was called for Joe Biden, significantly increasing his chances of becoming the first contender to unseat an incumbent president in Donald Trump since George H.W. Bush lost the White House in 1993. AP and Fox News have now called Arizona for Biden. Should that state remain in the Democrats column, Trump will need to make a clean sweep of the remaining states. Report by Nick O’Malley
  • Australian political leaders have declared their confidence in a fair election outcome in the United States in a bipartisan message that countered former treasurer Joe Hockey’s claim of "fraud” in the count. Report by David Crowe
  • They came in their tens of thousands: braving the scorching heat and freezing winds, the traffic jams and painfully long lines, just to get a glimpse of their favourite president at one of his signature rallies. But while there’s no denying that Donald Trump amassed a loyal army of supporters over the years, the broader questions are who are they and why does he appeal to them? Analysis by Farrah Tomazin

  • Few would have predicted that more than 24 hours after voting ended in the United States election that global attention would lock on Arizona as Donald Trump’s pathways to victory tightened around the country, but some enjoyed the poetry of it. Analysis by Nick O’Malley
  • Joe Biden tried to frame the election as a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic. This seemed wise given polls showed most Americans did not approve of Trump’s COVID-19 response. There was speculation that unhappiness with Trump’s handling of the virus might depress turnout among conservative voters. But it didn’t work out that way. Analysis by Matthew Knott
  • The splintering of the US electorate is deep and dangerous. Trump’s lies on election night threaten a period of discord – and maybe violence – that will turn the country on itself while the world changes around it. Opinion by David Crowe
  • The Democrat candidate Joe Biden may be on track to win, but forecasts of a landslide victory appear to be an even greater polling error than occurred in 2016. Report by Nick Bonyhady and Matt Wade

Election workers are powering through the night to count laborious absentee ballots in Georgia, where Joe Biden is steadily gaining ground on Donald Trump.

This race will be a photo finish. With 95 per cent of votes reported, it’s now neck and neck: Trump currently has 49.6 per cent of the vote, while Biden has 49.1 per cent.

Biden began Wednesday morning (US time) approximately 100,000 votes behind Trump, but by Thursday morning Trump’s lead narrowed to 23,000 votes, or 0.5 per cent. Under Georgia election law, a candidate may request a recount if the margin is 0.5 or less.

In Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold and home to most of Atlanta, Biden narrowed the margin by more than 18,000 votes between 5pm and midnight (right now it’s 3.30am in Georgia).

In DeKalb County, also part of the metropolitan region, Biden narrowed it by an additional 5000.

The next update from Georgia’s secretary of state is scheduled for 10.30am Thursday (US time).

The question now is whether additional absentee votes from rural and more Republican areas will offset enough of Biden’s gains to preserve Trump’s lead.

Republicans in Georgia are nervously assessing the vote count and have promised to file lawsuits in a dozen or more counties aimed at knocking off votes here and there. The first case, filed in Savannah on Wednesday, was an effort to chisel away 53 ballots that Georgia Republicans said arrived too late to be counted.

with The New York Times

The Maricopa County election centre in Phoenix, Arizona, which was forced to close on Wednesday night (US time) as angry protesters tried to storm the building, has released its last tally for the night.

Trump has narrowed Biden’s edge in Arizona slightly to 68,390 votes, or less than three percentage points. It means Trump has hit the percentage (48.1 per cent) he needs to stay on track to potentially win the state, but it may not hold, New York Times reporter Jennifer Medina says.

In Maricopa County itself, Biden’s margin went down by 10,783 votes, to a lead of 74,514. But there are about 275,000 votes left to count, plus provisional ballots.

The county, where it is currently 1.30am on Thursday, is not expected to release its next tally update until 7pm.

Although we – using the calls provided by the Associated Press – have called Arizona for Biden, some other outlets are holding off due to the surge in Republican votes.

If Arizona ends up swinging Republican, it is a lifeline to Trump, although he will still need to win Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He can afford to lose Nevada.

Donald Trump says he wants vote counting to stop in some states; and he will go to the Supreme Court to make it happen. Can he? Sherryn Groch reports.

US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump.Credit:The Age

It was a threat issued in the wee hours of the morning to a nation still struggling to understand its future.

"We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court,” President Donald Trump said, moments after falsely declaring victory in a knife-edge election that hadn’t been called yet. "We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list, OK?”

At that time, voting had stopped. Polls were closed, even all the way in Alaska on the west coast. But millions of votes were (and still are) being counted, as is common in US elections.

With Democrat rival Joe Biden now gaining ground in a race remaining (excruciatingly) too close to call, Trump’s bid to suspend the normal counting process has sent a shiver through Western democracies – labelled a power grab by many commentators as senior Australian politicians, including opposition leader Anthony Albanese, join worldwide calls for a full count.

Biden has vowed to challenge Trump’s plan with his own army of lawyers. "This ain’t over until every vote is counted,” he said, urging Americans to have faith – and to have patience at the end of a long election night. "It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election. That’s the decision of the American people.”

So could Trump – or a judge – actually stop people’s votes being counted?

What is Trump’s plan?

While Trump might want Americans to believe that votes are still being sent in after election day and counted by unscrupulous officials, voting has stopped. Polls had closed before he stepped up to the podium for his address and no state will count absentee ballots postmarked after election day.

What Trump wants is for vote counting to stop. This may seem counterproductive when he is, at the time of writing, still down in the electoral college race to 270, but there’s a clear strategy behind it. This year’s election saw huge voting numbers and, thanks to the pandemic, a record amount voting via mail. In some states, these mail-in ballots are counted after those from polling booths.

Postal voting has been built into the state’s well-honed electoral systems for decades without concern – the defence force have long used them to vote, says Dr Thomas J. Adams, an expert in US politics and history at the University of Sydney. But mail-in ballots also tend to swing Democrat – hence the terms the “red mirage” and “blue wave” where early election results can show the map filling up with red Republican votes, only to be washed away by blue Democrat mail-in ballots counted later.

Read more here.