Biden edges closer to White House

John Whitesides and Joseph Ax
·3-min read

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has taken a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia, putting the White House within his reach as it and other battleground states continue to count ballots.

Biden has a 253 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, according to most major television networks.

Winning Georgia's 16 electoral votes would put the former vice president on the cusp of the 270 he needs to secure the presidency.

Biden, 77, would become the next president by winning Pennsylvania, or by winning two out of the trio of Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.

Trump's likeliest path appears narrower - he needs to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia and also to overtake Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.

Biden is now ahead by 917 votes in Georgia, where counting continued early on Friday.

The shift in Georgia came hours after Trump appeared at the White House to falsely claim the election was being "stolen" from him.

Trump had seen his lead steadily shrink in Georgia, a Southern state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1992, as officials worked through tens of thousands of uncounted votes, many from Democratic strongholds such as Atlanta.

The Georgia secretary of state reported late on Thursday there were about 14,000 ballots still to count in the state.

The state also will have to sift through votes from military personnel and overseas residents as well as provisional ballots cast on Election Day by voters who had problems with their registration or identification.

Biden has been steadily chipping away at the Republican incumbent's lead in Pennsylvania as well. His deficit had shrunk to just more than 18,000 there by early on Friday, and was expected to continue falling with many of the ballots still to be counted being cast in Democratic areas.

Biden also maintained slim advantages in Arizona and Nevada. In Arizona, his lead narrowed to about 47,000 early on Friday and in Nevada he was ahead by about 11,500 votes.

Trump, 74, has sought to portray as fraudulent the slow counting of mail-in ballots, which surged in popularity due to fears of exposure to the coronavirus.

Trump fired off tweets early on Friday.

"I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST," he tweeted, without offering any evidence that any illegal votes have been cast.

Twitter flagged the post as possibly misleading.

In an extraordinary assault on the democratic process, Trump appeared in the White House briefing room on Thursday evening and baselessly alleged the election was being "stolen" from him.

Offering no evidence, Trump lambasted election workers and sharply criticised polling before the election that he said was designed to suppress the vote because it favoured Biden.

"They're trying to rig an election, and we can't let that happen," said Trump. Several TV networks cut away during his remarks, with anchors saying they needed to correct his statements.

Biden, who earlier in the day urged patience as votes were counted, responded on Twitter: "No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever."

Trump's campaign, meanwhile, pursued lawsuits in several states, though judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly rejected challenges there.

Legal experts said the cases had little chance of affecting the electoral outcome, and Biden campaign senior legal adviser Bob Bauer call them part of a "broader misinformation campaign."

Twitter and Facebook have flagged numerous posts from Trump since Election Day as misleading.

A Facebook group called "Stop the Steal" pushing false claims of voter fraud gained hundreds of thousands of members on Thursday before the social media giant took down the page, citing calls for violence.

Supporters of both candidates are holding small protests outside voting centres, though the demonstrations have been largely peaceful.