Donald Trump claims victory and fraud but US election too close to call

Joe Biden says he is optimistic as race boils down to battleground states

By Susan Lynch in Washington for the Irish Times

Despite incomplete results from several battleground states that could determine the outcome of the US election, US president Donald Trump has proclaimed victory over Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

US president Donald Trump has won the vital states of Florida and Texas while Democratic challenger Joe Biden has told supporters “we are going to win this” as counting continues in the US presidential election.

Although the outcome of the election remains too close to call, Donald Trump has declared himself the winner and claimed that a fraud was taking place.

In a statement to supporters in the White House, Mr Trump said he would be going to the US Supreme Court. “We want all voting to stop,” he said.

Mr Trump said he had won in states such as Texas, Florida, Ohio and Georgia and was well ahead in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“And all of a sudden everything just stopped, this is a fraud on the American public,” he said. “We were getting ready to win this election, frankly we did win this election.”

Meanwhile, Mr Biden said he was optimistic about the result of the election and urged his supporters to stay patient.

“We believe we’ve won Arizona, we’ve just called it for Minnesota and we’re still in the game in Michigan,” he said as focus shifted to key battleground states. “We feel good about Wisconsin and Michigan and we’re gonna win Pennsylvania.”

A predicted Democratic landslide failed to materialise but Mr Biden said “we’re feeling good about where we are”.

However, US president Donald Trump appears to be on course for a strong performance in a series of states that are essential to his re-election efforts.

Democrats’ hopes of flipping so-called “sunbelt” states such as Georgia and Texas, which have seen huge demographic changes in recent years, seemed to be thwarted.

The swing-state of North Carolina remains too close to call but the Republican candidate is leading with most votes counted.

In a boost for Democrats, Mr Biden appears to have won the southern state of Arizona. The state has not backed a Democratic president since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Mr Trump overtook his Democratic opponent in Ohio and Georgia – Republican-leaning states that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 – but it remains all to play for in the trio of rust-belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Georgia, with its rapidly expanding suburbs, had been considered a new test of Mr Biden’s claim he can expand Hillary Clinton’s 2016 map.

Mr Trump’s victory in the mid-western states secured him the White House four years ago, as he flipped states that had traditionally voted Democrat. Counting is continuing in all three, and Pennsylvania will continue to accept late-arriving absentee ballots until Friday.

Texas and Florida

Texas’s 38-vote electoral college prize will remain in Republican hands despite Democratic hopes of winning the state for the first time since 1976.

Mr Trump is also on course for victory in Florida with its 29 electoral college votes. The Biden campaign had sent former president Barack Obama to Miami on the eve of the election to try to rally supporters

One thing is clear: The turnout in this election will be historic with the final numbers on track to be enormous.

According to the United States Election Project, votes this year have already exceeded 2016 votes in Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Washington state. By the end of the night, the same could easily be true in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah, all of which had reported more than 90 per cent of their 2016 totals by earlier Tuesday.

Democratic officials in Pennsylvania said they felt particularly bullish about turnout in Philadelphia. With just under 400,000 mail ballots cast and lines at hundreds of polling places around the city starting at 6.30am local time, one Democratic official said he thought the turnout could surge past levels seen in 2008 for former Obama.

On the other side, Bill Bretz, chairman of the Republican Party in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, said turnout had been “exceptionally high” there. “There’s only so much left in the Election Day vote,” said Michael P McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida. “That means that Trump’s got to make up ground with a smaller potential pool.”

Voter protection

A major national voter protection hotline has received more reports of voter intimidation than it did in 2016.

“I think it’s fairly safe to say that the extraordinary voter protection effort that we have seen this year, which proved strong and robust – combined with litigation that focused with laser precision on tearing down the restrictions and burdens faced by voters during the pandemic – has made today a relatively smooth Election Day across the country,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told reporters.

The reports of intimidation include armed Trump supporters standing outside some polling places – including at least one in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a man was arrested, and one in Baker, Louisiana, where voters called the Lawyers’ Committee’s hotline to report a man waving a Trump flag and holding a large gun.– Additional reporting New York Times

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