The fate of the U.S. presidency hung in the balance on Wednesday as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought for the final battleground states. Biden was awarded Michigan and Wisconsin Wednesday, while victory remained up for grabs in Pennsylvania, a state that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House. Trump's campaign announced at various times Wednesday that it would be suing to stop the vote count in two states — first in Michigan, then Pennsylvania — and to order officials in Georgia to follow the law on storing and counting absentee ballots. Referring to the Michigan suit, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that the campaign "has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law."
The campaign said it was also suing to temporarily stop the vote count in Pennsylvania, claiming lack of "transparency."
Justin Clark, Trump's deputy campaign manager, said in a statement on Wednesday that the campaign is "suing to stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers." He said the campaign wants "to temporarily halt counting until there is meaningful transparency and Republicans can ensure all counting is done above board and by the law."
There have been no reports of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. The state had more than 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by Nov. 3. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he had promised Pennsylvanians they would count every vote and that's what they're going to do. Trump's campaign and the Georgia Republican Party have filed a lawsuit against the Chatham County Board of Elections asking a judge to order the county to secure and account for ballots received after 7 p.m. local time on election day. State party chairman David Shafer said in a statement Wednesday night that they planned to sue in a dozen counties. The lawsuit alleges that a Republican observer watched a poll worker take unprocessed absentee ballots from a back room and mix them into processed absentee ballots waiting to be tabulated.
Biden wins in Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday afternoon brought the electoral college vote tally to 253 for Biden and 214 for Trump, with 270 needed to win the presidency. Biden told reporters a short time later that he would not be declaring himself the winner of the election, but that he was confident when the counting was finished in all states, he would be ahead.
"Every vote must be counted," he said from Wilmington, Del. "No one is going to take our democracy away from us."
And he said his victory would be a victory for democracy.
"Here, the people rule. Power can't be taken or asserted," he said. "It flows from the people. It's their will that determines who will be the president of the United States and theirs alone."
The margins were exceedingly tight in states across the country, with the candidates trading wins in battlegrounds. Trump held Florida, the largest of the swing states, along with Texas and Ohio. The unsettled presidential race came as Democrats entered election night confident not only in Biden's prospects, but also in the party's chances of taking control of the Senate. However, the Republicans held several seats that were considered vulnerable, including in Iowa, Texas and Kansas. Disappointed Democrats lost House seats but were expected to retain control there.
The high-stakes election was held against the backdrop of a historic pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and wiped away millions of jobs. Both 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. It was unclear exactly what legal action he could try to pursue.
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