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LATEST: Trump: 'If you count the legal votes, I easily win'

by The Associated Press | November 5, 2020 at 6:07 p.m.
Election workers examine ballots as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta.

WASHINGTON — The latest on the presidential election:

6:07 p.m.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election from him.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvu1P5VFVsQ]

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said.

Trump spoke from the White House briefing room, criticizing pre-election polling that showed him trailing Democrat Joe Biden and arguing that the ballot-counting process is unfair and corrupt. He also renewed his criticism of widespread use of mail-in balloting in the pandemic.

The ballot-counting process is ongoing in several battleground states.

5:35 p.m.: Trump to make remarks about election from White House

President Donald Trump is set to make his first public appearance since the early morning hours after Election Day.

The White House said Trump was scheduled to deliver remarks at 5:30 p.m. CST Thursday from the press briefing room. It was unclear if he would take questions.

Trump last appeared in public early Wednesday.

4:50 p.m.

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have asked an Arizona judge to let them join a lawsuit that alleges vote tabulation equipment in metro Phoenix was unable to record a voter’s ballot because she completed it with a county-issued Sharpie pen.

They argued that anecdotal accounts of potential tabulation errors resulting from Sharpies demands further review and that they should be allowed to participate in the lawsuit because it will likely affect their interests in the tabulation of votes.

The lawsuit seeks a court order for all Maricopa County voters whose ballots were rejected as a result of using a Sharpie to be given a chance to fix their ballots. It also asks for such voters to be able to be present while election officials count their ballots.

The Arizona Democratic Party earlier asked to join the lawsuit, arguing that Democratic voters could be disenfranchised if the woman who filed the lawsuit was able to challenge a voter’s intent in making ballot choices without knowing the applicable standards.

A judge is holding a hearing Thursday in Phoenix in the lawsuit by Phoenix-area voter Laurie Aguilera, who also alleged ink from the marker bled through the back side of her ballot and that poll workers refused her request for a new ballot.

3:30 p.m.

Democrat Joe Biden says he feels “very good” about the outcome of the presidential election and is telling his supporters to “stay calm” as votes continue to be counted.

Biden delivered brief remarks Thursday at a theater in downtown Wilmington, Del. He said, “It is the will of the voters — no one, not anyone else — who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

President Donald Trump’s campaign has pursued legal efforts to halt the vote counting in some states and is seeking a recount in Wisconsin.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0PxGBUGVZA]

Biden says that “the process is working” and “we’ll know very soon” the outcome of the election. Biden and his top campaign officials have expressed confidence about the vote but have been careful to emphasize the need for every ballot to be counted.

Biden’s running mate — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. — stood next to him as he spoke.

2:35 p.m.: Postal Service told to sweep processing centers

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to perform twice daily sweeps of processing centers in states with extended ballot receipt deadlines to check for mail-in votes and to expedite them for delivery.

Thursday's order will remain in place until the end of states’ windows for accepting ballots.

According to court records, a similar order by the same judge earlier this week found just 13 ballots in a search of 27 processing hubs in several battleground areas.

Elections officials in key battleground states are continuing presidential vote counting. Democrat Joe Biden is urging patience, while President Donald Trump is pursuing his legal options.

Several key states are too early to call — Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada.

1:25 p.m.

Joe Biden is getting virtual briefings on the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout from panels of experts, sticking to a routine he’s had since March, even as the outcome of the presidential race remains in doubt.

The former vice president traveled Thursday afternoon to a theater in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, where his campaign has set up a makeshift studio. He and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, often sit facing large screens while experts participate by video conference.

Biden has held similar public health and economic briefings about once a week since March while criticizing President Donald Trump's administration for the federal government’s response to a pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans.

Journalists traveling with Biden were not allowed inside the briefing but saw him as he entered the theater. He did not take questions.

1 p.m.

The Arizona Democratic Party has asked a court to let it participate in a lawsuit that alleges vote tabulation equipment in metro Phoenix was unable to record a voter’s ballot because she completed it with a county-issued Sharpie pen.

A judge is holding a hearing Thursday in Phoenix in the lawsuit by voter Laurie Aguilera, who also alleged that ink from the marker bled through the back side of her ballot and that poll workers refused her request for a new ballot.

Aguilera is seeking a court order for all Maricopa County voters whose ballots were rejected as a result of using a Sharpie to be given a chance to fix their ballots. She also is asking for such voters to be able to be present while election officials count their ballots.

The Democrats say the lawsuit is based on the unconfirmed account of one voter and her request to monitor ballot processing could throw the processing of ballots in Arizona’s largest county in disarray.

In a court filing, the party says Democratic voters could be disenfranchised if Aguilera and others were able to challenge a voter’s intent in making ballot choices without knowing the applicable standards.

Arizona election officials have said voting with a Sharpie would have no impact on the votes being recorded by a tabulation machine.

12:55 p.m.

As the nation awaits results from Nevada, Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria says it could take until Saturday or Sunday before the state’s largest county finishes tallying mail-in ballots that have been returned.

Gloria said Thursday at a press conference: "Our goal here in Clark County is not to count fast. We want to make sure that we’re being accurate.”

Gloria says Clark County has at least 63,262 ballots left to count, including 34,743 returned in drop boxes on Election Day and 4,208 returned via the U.S. Postal Service. But as mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day continue to trickle in, Gloria said he had no way of knowing the total number of outstanding ballots.

He says, “That’s a number that I can’t give you. I can’t predict to you what’s going to come through the U.S. mail.”

Gloria says the fact that Nevada’s six electoral votes could push Democrat Joe Biden beyond the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to win the presidency reaffirmed the need to not rush the count.

He said the last day to count ballots is Nov. 12.

12:30 p.m.

A Michigan judge has dismissed a lawsuit by President Donald Trump's campaign in a dispute over whether Republican challengers had access to the handling of absentee ballots.

Judge Cynthia Stephens noted that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. She also said the defendant, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting, even if she is the state’s chief election officer.

The Associated Press called the Michigan presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday evening. Trump won the state in 2016.

The lawsuit claimed Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. She was accused of undermining the “constitutional right of all Michigan voters ... to participate in fair and lawful elections.”

Benson, through state attorneys, denied the allegations. Much of the dispute centered on the TCF Center in Detroit where pro-Trump protesters gathered while absentee ballots were being counted.

10:45 a.m.

A judge in Georgia has dismissed a lawsuit by the state Republican Party and President Donald Trump's campaign that asked him to ensure a coastal county was following state laws on processing absentee ballots.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision Thursday at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.

The suit had raised concerns about 53 absentee ballots that poll observers said were not part of an original batch of ballots. County elections officials testified that all 53 ballots had been received on time.

10:40 a.m.

Joe Biden’s campaign is expressing optimism at the ultimate result of the election but warning supporters to “stay patient and stay calm” as vote counting continues.

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said Thursday on a briefing call with reporters that “the story of today is going to be a very positive story” for their campaign, but cautioned that as the counting continues, “we need to allow it to get done and get done well.”

She says the campaign expects their lead to fluctuate in some states as more votes come in.

O’Malley Dillon also charged that legal challenges by President Donald Trump’s campaign to halt vote counting in some states and seek a recount in Wisconsin are a “flailing strategy” that are an “attempt to distract and delay” from the results of the election.

The Associated Press is not calling the presidential race yet because neither candidate has secured the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. Several key states were too early to call — Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada.

9:38 a.m.

Arizona state officials say there are about 450,000 ballots still to be counted in the Western battleground.

The AP says it is monitoring that vote count as it comes in. The AP has called the presidential race in Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden.

AP executive editor Sally Buzbee says: “The Associated Press continues to watch and analyze vote count results from Arizona. We will follow the facts in all cases.”

Biden holds a 2.35 percentage point lead over Trump in Arizona, an advantage of about 68,000 votes.

The vast majority of the ballots yet to be counted are from Maricopa County, the most populous area of the state.

Georgia officials are providing live election updates. Watch the video here

[Video not showing up above? Click here to view » http://arkansasonline.com/116georgia/]

8:40 a.m.

With Joe Biden edging closer to unseating him from the White House, President Donald Trump says he wants to put a halt to vote counting.

The extraordinary statement by an incumbent president to voice support for ceasing the count of legally cast votes came in a Thursday morning tweet, saying only: "STOP THE COUNT!"

Elections are run by individual state, county and local governments. Trump's public comments have no impact on the tallying of votes across the country.

So far, the vote count across the country has been conducted efficiently and without evidence of any misconduct, despite Trump's public complaints.

Trump's comments come as his campaign has filed legal action in several states to try to stop vote counting, claiming a lack of transparency. Still, Trump's campaign has held out hope that continued counting in Arizona could overcome a Biden lead in the state.

EARLIER:

WASHINGTON — Democrat Joe Biden was pushing closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the "blue wall" battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing President Donald Trump's path.

With just a handful of states still up for grabs, Trump tried to press his case in court in some key swing states. It was unclear if any of his campaign's legal maneuvering over balloting would succeed in shifting the race in his favor.

Two days after Election Day, neither candidate had amassed the votes needed to win the White House. But Biden's victories in the Great Lakes states left him at 264, meaning he was one battleground state away — any would do — from becoming president-elect.

Trump, with 214 electoral votes, faced a much higher hurdle. To reach 270, he needed to claim all four remaining battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada.

With millions of votes yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in history. At an afternoon news conference Wednesday, the former vice president said he expected to win the presidency but stopped short of outright declaring victory.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqi4XYWTZdk]

"I will govern as an American president," Biden said. "There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America."

It was a stark contrast to the approach of Trump, who early Wednesday falsely claimed that he had won the election, and in an extraordinary move on Thursday voiced support for ceasing the tallying of legally-cast votes in a tweet, saying only, "STOP THE COUNT!"

Elections are run by individual state, county and local governments and Trump's public comments have no impact on the tallying of votes across the country.

Trump's campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president's chances and cast doubt on the election results, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden led by more than 20,000 ballots out of nearly 3.3 million counted.

For four years, Democrats have been haunted by the crumbling of the blue wall, the trio of Great Lakes states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — that their candidates had been able to count on every four years. But Trump's populist appeal struck a chord with white working-class voters and he captured all three in 2016 by a combined total of just 77,000 votes.

The candidates waged a fierce fight for the states this year, with Biden's everyman political persona resonating in blue-collar towns while his campaign also pushed to increase turnout among Black voters in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.

It was unclear when a national winner would be determined after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy. But even as Biden's prospects improved, the U.S. on Wednesday set another record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Trump spent much of Wednesday in the White House residence, huddling with advisers and fuming at media coverage showing his Democratic rival picking up battlegrounds. Trump used his Twitter feed to falsely claim victory in several key states and amplify unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing "irregularities" in several counties. And the campaign said it was filing suit in Michigan and Pennsylvania to halt ballot counting on grounds that it wasn't given proper access to observe. Still more legal action was launched in Georgia.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of votes were still to be counted in Pennsylvania, and Trump's campaign said it was moving to intervene in existing Supreme Court litigation over counting mail-in ballots there. The campaign also argued that outstanding votes still could flip the outcome in Arizona, which went for Biden, showcasing an inconsistency in its arguments over prolonged tabulation.

In other closely watched races, Trump picked up Florida, the largest of the swing states, and held onto Texas and Ohio while Biden kept New Hampshire and Minnesota.

Beyond the presidency, Democrats had hoped the election would allow the party to reclaim the Senate and pad its majority in the House. But while the voting scrambled seats in the House and Senate, it ultimately left Congress much like it began — deeply divided.

The candidates spent months pressing dramatically different visions for the nation's future, including on racial justice, and voters responded in huge numbers, with more than 100 million people casting votes ahead of Election Day.

Trump, in an extraordinary move from the White House, issued premature claims of victory and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discounted the president's quick claim of victory, saying it would take a while for states to conduct their vote counts. The Kentucky Republican said that "claiming you've won the election is different from finishing the counting."

Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors meet. That's set by federal law.

Dozens of Trump supporters chanting "Stop the count!" descended on a ballot-tallying center in Detroit, while thousands of anti-Trump protesters demanding a complete vote count took to the streets in cities across the U.S.

Protests — sometimes about the election, sometimes about racial inequality — took place Wednesday in at least a half-dozen cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and San Diego.

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 later.

Trump appeared to suggest that those ballots should not be counted and that he would fight for that outcome at the high court. But legal experts were dubious of Trump's declaration. Trump has appointed three of the high court's nine justices including, most recently Amy Coney Barrett.

CORRECTION: In Arizona, 450,000 ballots were still to be counted at 9:38 a.m. An earlier version of this story provided an incorrect number.

This story was originally published at 9:01 a.m.

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