White House race on knife edge as votes counted in key states

Washington, Nov 4 (AFP/APP):Americans woke up on Wednesday not knowing who the next US president would be as votes were still being counted in six key states that could swing the bitterly contested election to Republican incumbent Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden.

Fueling fears of a constitutional crisis, Trump prematurely declared victory overnight and threatened to demand the intervention of the Supreme Court to stop vote-counting but it continued nonetheless. “We did win this election,” the 74-year-old president told cheering supporters in the East Room of the White House before the final vote tallies were complete.

“This is a fraud on the American public.” The Biden campaign slammed Trump’s victory claim as “outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect” and a “naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens.” “The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted,” it said. “If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort.”

The outcome appeared to hinge on the results from six states where a winner has not yet been declared — Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. As of 9:00 am (1400 GMT), Biden had a slim lead in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin while Trump was ahead in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. But state election officials cautioned that with tens of thousands of ballots outstanding in some states — millions in others — the races could shift.

The tight White House race and recriminations evoked memories of the 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. The Bush vs Gore race, which rested on a handful of votes in Florida, eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which halted a recount while Bush was ahead. A deluge of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the vote count in some states this year, several of which only began counting mail-in ballots on Tuesday.

Michigan officials, for example, said they hoped to have all of the votes counted by the end of the day while in Pennsylvania officials said it could be several more days. “If everything keeps up, we’ll have the total results in the next couple of days,” Al Schmidt, the City Commissioner of Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, told CNN.

“But Pennsylvania allows votes to be received and counted up until Friday and three days after the election. “So we can’t count what we don’t yet have.”

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