Biden widens lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia, inches closer to U.S. presidency

The latest:

  • Biden takes lead in Pennsylvania, Georgia.
  • Electoral college vote stands at 253 for Biden, 214 for Trump.
  • Biden expected to address nation Friday night.
  • Trump vows to continue contesting vote, but claims are ill-defined.
  • Election observer says no evidence for Trump’s fraud claims.
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
  • What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden widened his lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia on Friday, edging closer to the White House hours after U.S. President Donald Trump falsely claimed the Democrats were “trying to steal” the election from him.

Biden — who is expected to address the country later in the evening — had a 253-to-214 lead in the state-by-state electoral college vote that determines the winner and was inching toward securing the 270 votes needed in the remaining undecided swing states.

In Georgia, which has 16 electoral votes and is a must-win for Trump, Biden leads by 4,235 votes. The Democrat first surpassed Trump in the state vote count on Friday morning as ballots continue to be counted.

Trump’s lead in Georgia dwindled after Election Day when state officials began processing mail-in ballots, a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming — without proof — that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

If there is less than a 0.5 percentage point difference in vote totals for each candidate, state law dictates that a recount must be held. Biden currently holds a lead of about 0.08 percentage points. A Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a news conference that while the focus remains on counting every legal vote and recording them accurately, he expects a recount in the state given the narrow margin — which would be allowed under state law. Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said the state has many safeguards in place “to ensure the integrity of the vote.”

WATCH | Recount expected in Georgia, official says:

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says a recount of votes for the presidential election is necessary in his state because the margin of victory will be just a few thousand votes.   1:05

In Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, Biden holds a lead of more than 13,000 votes over Trump. Philadelphia city commissioner Lisa Deeley said it may take “several days” to complete reporting of Philadelphia’s approximately 40,000 remaining ballots.

The numbers in Georgia and Pennsylvania were expected to continue to move in Biden’s favour, with many of the outstanding ballots being from areas that typically vote Democratic, including the cities of Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Biden’s lead in Arizona stood at more than 41,000, and he was still ahead in Nevada by more than 22,000 votes. The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden, but CBC News still considers it too close to call and is waiting to make the determination.

WATCH | Nevada election official says ballot count focused on accuracy, not speed:

When asked why the count is taking so long, Nevada election official Joe Gloria said his staff prioritizes accuracy over speed as they count ballots cast in the U.S. presidential election.   0:49

Biden 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 appeared narrower — he needed to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia and also to overtake Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.

As the U.S. held its breath three days after Tuesday’s election day, Georgia and Pennsylvania officials expressed optimism they would finish counting on Friday, while Arizona and Nevada were still expected to take days to finalize their vote totals.

Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria in Nevada said his county has an additional 63,000 mail ballots to be processed over the next few days and 60,000 provisional ballots to be processed later.

Trump continues baseless allegations

Biden was at his home in Wilmington, Del., on Friday.

Meanwhile, Trump vowed to continue his legal fight on Friday, according to a statement released by the White House. 

“We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government. I will never give up fighting for you and our nation,” Trump said in the statement.

WATCH | Trump makes unfounded allegations about ‘illegal’ votes:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that Democrats could ‘try to steal the election from us’ if ‘illegal votes’ cast after election day were counted. There is no evidence that ballots were cast after Nov. 3. 0:40

Trump 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 through in-person voting. As counts from those ballots have been tallied, they have eroded the initial strong leads the president had in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania.

States have historically taken time after election day to tally all votes.

Trump has previously mentioned taking his case to the Supreme Court, but he could need the court’s help in two or more states, an unlikely scenario that is far different from what took place in 2000, the only time the Supreme Court has effectively settled a presidential election. Twenty years ago, the entire fight was over Florida’s electoral votes and involved a recount as opposed to trying to halt the initial counting of ballots.

WATCH | Supreme Court unlikely to get involved in election, U.S. lawyer says:

Lawyer Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the legal battle over the 2000 election, says President Donald Trump’s legal challenges are ‘groundless’ and unlikely to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.   7:27

In an extraordinary assault on the democratic process, Trump appeared in the White House briefing room on Thursday evening and without basis alleged that Democrats could “try to steal the election from us” if “illegal votes” cast after election day were counted.

Offering no evidence and taking no reporter questions, Trump lambasted election workers in a 15-minute address and sharply criticized polling before the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking at a news conference from his native Kentucky on Friday, said he would not comment on the president’s allegations, pointing to a tweet he sent out earlier as his conclusive thoughts on the current state of affairs.

Election workers count ballots in Philadelphia on Friday. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney pointed to examples of previous candidates, including incumbent presidents, who conceded promptly when the math was no longer in their favour.

“I think what the president needs to do, frankly, is put his big boy pants on,” said Kenney. “He needs to acknowledge the fact he lost, and he needs to congratulate the winner.”

Some residents in the city celebrated what they believed was a lead change that would be permanent.

Trump campaign files multiple lawsuits

In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign won an appellate ruling to get party and campaign observers closer to election workers who are processing mail-in ballots in Philadelphia.

But the order did not affect the counting of ballots that is proceeding in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, as elections officials are dealing with an avalanche of mail-in ballots driven by fears of voting in person during a pandemic.

Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits Thursday, undercutting a campaign legal strategy to attack the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean Trump’s defeat.

WATCH | Trump supporters protest outside vote counting centre in Phoenix:

Donald Trump supporters are protesting outside a vote counting centre in Phoenix, Ariz., as his opponent, Joe Biden, maintains a narrow lead for the U.S. presidency in the state. 1:29

Protesters crying foul over closely watched vote counts rallied outside tabulation centres in Phoenix and Detroit on Friday.

Roughly 200 Trump supporters gathered for a third straight day in front of the elections centre in downtown Phoenix, where hundreds of workers are still processing and counting ballots.

“Arrest the poll workers,” the crowd chanted, demanding that Trump’s presidency be renewed for “four more years.” Sheriffs’ deputies kept protesters in a “free speech” zone away from the entrance to the building.

In Philadelphia, two armed men were arrested Thursday near the convention centre where an ongoing vote count was happening, police said Friday. Police said the men, not yet identified, will be charged with firearms offences.  


What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.