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US election LIVE updates: Trump falsely claims win as Joe Biden maintains lead; Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina still too close to call

US President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud, in which he has sought to taint wholly legal mail-in ballots as "illegal votes”, attracted widespread condemnation from his Democrat rivals.

Now some of his Republican allies appear equally perturbed.

As our North American correspondent Matthew Knott reports, the Republican Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, said there was "no defence” for Trump’s comments while Republican congressman Will Hurd described them as "dangerous & wrong”.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a top Trump ally, told America’s ABC news on Thursday night (US time) that "we heard nothing today about any evidence” of electoral fraud, reports US media outlet Axios.

"This kind of thing, all it does is inflame without informing. And we cannot permit inflammation without information,” he said.

"If you’re gonna say those things from behind the podium at the White House, it’s his right to do it, it’s his right to pursue legal action. But show us the evidence,” Christie said. "I want to know what backs up what he said so that I can analyse it. And let me tell you, if he’s right, I’ll be outraged and I’m sure you would be too.

"And if he’s wrong then the American people are going to be able to make the judgment about this election that the results have been fair.”

US President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread electoral fraud, made on Thursday (US time) as his Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden assured supporters he will win the election, have not gone unnoticed in Australia.

Federal Greens MP Adam Bandt, the Parliamentary leader of the party, called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to condemn Trump, saying the "lying, deflated” president was now "falsely claiming he has won the election”.

Meanwhile in NSW, Attorney-General Mark Speakman said "true conservatives defend civic institutions” and "rely on facts, not manufactured alternative facts”.

And federal Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek accused Australia’s former ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, of an "irresponsible intervention” after he suggested on Thursday morning, local time, that electoral fraud may have been at play in the US election, although he added that he did not think this would affect the election result and Biden was ahead. Mr Hockey said later that he had been taken out of context.

As we’ve noted a few times today, there is some divergence between media outlets on whether US Democratic Party presidential hopeful Joe Biden has won the state of Arizona and its 11 Electoral College votes.

The Associated Press (AP), on whom we rely for election calls, has declared this state as a win for the Democrats, and it did so hours after polls closed. Other media outlets such as CNN have yet to make a call, although Fox News raised the ire of Republicans by calling the result even before AP.

As you can see from the tally topping this blog, we have included Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in our reckoning of the votes each camp has received to date, and it places Biden on 264 Electoral College votes to US President Donald Trump’s 214. The winning number for the keys to the White House is 270.

Even without those votes from Arizona, Biden is in the lead and needs to win in fewer states to claim the presidency. As it stands, Trump needs a win in all four battleground states still in play (Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada) to win a second term in office.

In an explainer, AP says that it called Arizona "at 2.50 am EST Wednesday after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded Trump could not catch up in the ballots left to be counted”.

But Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor, says: "The Associated Press continues to watch and analyse vote count results from Arizona as they come in. We will follow the facts in all cases.”

As we creep ever-closer to the edge of our seats awaiting the US election result, you can listen to Tory Maguire, National Editor of the Herald and The Age, and former North American correspondent Nick O’Malley unpicking the day’s events on our Please Explain podcast. This was recorded just hours ago.

If you’re just joining us, US President Donald Trump and his Democratic Party presidential challenger Joe Biden are still in the race for the White House, but the Biden camp retains the lead.

  • The election is yet to be called because Trump and Biden are neck and neck in key battleground states. The President would need to win Pennsylvania and Georgia, where the pair are neck and neck, plus North Carolina and Nevada to secure a second term in office. Biden would only need to win Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes to emerge immediately as the victor.
  • About 1900 votes separate Trump and Biden in the traditionally Republican state of Georgia. We are expecting an update on about 5700 new votes in the state in less than two hours.
  • The Associated Press (AP), on whom we rely for election calls, has called the state of Arizona as a win for Biden, which has placed him just six Electoral College votes away from the presidency on 264 votes. However, not all media outlets agree with this call, and have tallied his Electoral College votes at 253.
  • Nevada, won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, is firming as a win for Biden and would deliver six Electoral College votes to Biden. If the AP’s call in Arizona is correct, those votes would secure Biden the presidency. However, with some uncertainty hanging over the result in Arizona, it is unlikely a win in this state would be regarded as decisive of a Democrat election victory.
  • The vote count is moving slowly in Nevada and Pennsylvania, meaning we may not have a result in the election today (Australian time) but may have a clearer indication of whether Biden has flipped Georgia from Republican red to the Democrats’ signature blue.

Facebook on Thursday banned a large group called "Stop the Steal” that supporters of President Donald Trump were using to organise protests against the presidential vote count. Some members had called for violence, while many falsely claimed that Democrats are "stealing” the election from Republicans.

Though the group amassed more than 350,000 members before Facebook took it down, it was just one of several smaller groups that popped up as vote counting extended for days in several battleground states. Inside the groups, members and organisers tried to ensure they would get around Facebook’s moderators and "trolls” who might report or mock them.

"In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events,” Facebook said in a statement. "The group was organised around the delegitimisation of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”

Facebook said it will continue to watch for activity that violates its rules and will take action if it does. As of Thursday afternoon, a copycat "Stop the Steal” group was growing steadily, nearing 13,000 members, and others were easily searchable on Facebook.

Inside the groups, members posted baseless claims of voter fraud and organised protests. Calls for violence were not immediately apparent, although the the Centre for Countering Digital Hate shared a screenshot of one post in the now-banned group that read “Neither side is going to concede. Time to clean the guns, time to hit the streets.”

AP

This is Mary Ward signing off the blog. Michaela Whitbourn will be continuing our live coverage.

There are now just 1900 votes separating US President Donald Trump, in the lead, from his Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden in the traditionally Republican seat of Georgia, American news outlet CNN has reported.

Georgia, which offers 16 Electoral College votes, is a must-win for Trump to secure a second term in office.

A Biden supporter outside a polling location in Atlanta, Georgia, on election day.

A Biden supporter outside a polling location in Atlanta, Georgia, on election day. Credit:Bloomberg

The state would help Biden edge closer to securing the presidency, but it is not essential for him. It is also unlikely any news outlet would declare the election result on the back of a Democrat win in Georgia, unless and until the party won either the 20 Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania or there was confirmation of the result in Arizona.

That’s because there is a divergence of views on whether Biden has won Arizona and its 11 Electoral College votes to take him to 264 of the required 270 votes to secure the presidency. The Associated Press, on whom we rely for election calls, has already notched the state up as a win for Biden, but other media outlets including CNN have not yet called it.

If the Democrats win the 20 Electoral College votes up for grabs in Pennsylvania, the result in Arizona is no longer relevant. Pennsylvania is still too close to call.

Earlier today we asked readers of this blog how they thought one of the presidential candidates would make it to the necessary 270 electoral college votes, and it seems very few of you are expecting closure today.

We received more than 11,000 responses and 38 per cent of you said you thought Biden would reach the magic number when Nevada releases its next batch of results on Friday, US time (early in the morning on Saturday AEDT).

The next most popular outcome was Biden winning Pennsylvania – which 31 per cent of you thought would be the event which saw him declared winner of the presidential race. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen before Saturday, Australian time, either, based on comments by their secretary of state earlier today.

The third-most popular option was a Biden win in Georgia, the scenario selected by 19 per cent of you. Thirteen per cent of respondents said they believed Trump would win the presidency.

US Democratic Party vice-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has taken aim at President Donald Trump over his unfounded claims of widespread electoral fraud.

Earlier on Thursday (US time), Trump sought to make a distinction between "legal” votes on election day and allegedly "illegal” postal ballots, which are in fact entirely lawful. He has offered no evidence of fraudulently-cast postal votes in this election.

"Trump is trying to invalidate these ballots, and we need to fight back,” Senator Harris said.

The Biden campaign has been pushing hard for donations to its "Fight Fund” to help cover the costs of any legal actions filed by the Trump campaign. So far, the Republican camp has filed lawsuits in the key seats of Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania, but none to date have halted the counting of votes and the Michigan and Georgia suits have already been dismissed.

Joe Biden is inching his way to the White House after the most divisive election in decades – but now attention turns to the appointments that will shape his administration if he finally wins through.

The 77-year-old looks to have all but won the presidency with the backing of a Left-of-centre Democratic Party, although experts suggest his key picks are likely to be more moderate, while ambitions for the next four years will be hamstrung by a Republican Senate.

Lael Brainard​ could become the new US Secretary of the Treasury.

Lael Brainard​ could become the new US Secretary of the Treasury.Credit:Bloomberg

Despite calls among some progressives, Senator Elizabeth Warren – advocate of a billionaires’ wealth tax and Biden’s main opponent for the nomination – is unlikely to get near the job of Treasury secretary.

The hot favourite to replace Steve Mnuchin is instead the Federal Reserve board member Lael Brainard. The 58-year-old, a former Treasury official who served in the White House under Bill Clinton, is vastly experienced and "would ease market concerns of a more radical, progressive agenda with regards to economic policy”, according to James Knightley, chief international economist at ING.

That said, in Kamala Harris the president-elect chose a running mate almost as radical as Warren, according to Washington-based policy research firm Beacon Advisors, influencing his other choices of personnel.

"We view it as likely that the Biden administration will look to use these appointments as an opportunity to appease the progressive wing of the Democratic Party,” the firm said.

The Daily Telegraph, London