Looking at increasingly unfavourable election map, Trump baselessly accuses Democrats of trying to ‘steal the election’
‘Thank you all for your patience, but we’ve got to count the votes,’ Biden says (AFP)
https://www.middleeasteye.net- By Ali Harb in Dearborn, Michigan
Almost 48 hours after polls closed across the country, Americans still don’t know who their next president will be.
With tight margins and hundreds of thousands of ballots still being counted across many key states, the fog of uncertainty is obscuring the country’s political future.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden called for patience for every vote to be counted as the country, and the world, await the results. For his part, President Donald Trump appeared to preemptively reject the election results, falsely claiming that voter fraud was taking place across the country on a massive scale.
‘There is no voter fraud. The whole idea of stopping counting, this is unprecedented’
– Ron Stockton, political science professor
Speaking briefly from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, the former vice president also reiterated his assertion that he was confident of a victory against Trump.
“We continue to feel very good about where things stand,” Biden said. “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners.”
The electoral map does look favourable for Biden, who is only 17 electoral college votes from the 270-majority needed to win the presidency.
His path to victory can be achieved by winning one or two of the five states where a winner is yet to be declared. As of Thursday afternoon, Biden was closing the gap with Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania, while maintaining leads in Arizona and Nevada.
The odds looked favourable for Trump in North Carolina, where the president is leading by almost 80,000 votes.
Trump sounds off
Hours after Biden’s speech, Trump delivered his own remarks at the White House, making numerous false claims about voter fraud.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”
Trump went on to cite – without evidence – incidents of irregularities that he said gave Democrats an advantage in places like Michigan and Wisconsin.
“There’s been a lot of shenanigans and we can’t stand for that in our country,” he said.
The president also claimed that Democrats control all the states where the count is still underway. In fact, in Georgia, one of the biggest prizes on the map, the governor and secretary of state are Republicans.
Trump made it clear that he will be challenging election results in court, suggesting that he will not concede if Biden is declared the winner.
“We think there’ll be a lot of litigation because we can’t have an election stolen like this,” he said.
The Biden campaign responded to Trump’s claims later on Thursday, telling Fox news that the president’s remarks are “desperate, baseless and a sure sign he’s losing”.
Trump had lauded the Republican Party’s gains in the House of Representatives and likely successful effort to retain a majority in the Senate.
Still, in the race for the presidency, Biden appeared to have a clear advantage by Thursday evening.
‘Stop the count’
Winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electors would be enough to carry Biden to the White House. He can also secure an electoral college majority by winning any two of the remaining states.
“I ask everyone to stay calm, all the people to stay calm,” Biden said on Thursday. “The process is working; the count is being completed, and we’ll know very soon. So, thank you all for your patience, but we’ve got to count the votes.”
Earlier on Thursday, Trump had a radically different message that he shared on Twitter – “STOP THE COUNT!”
In a series of tweets, the president cast doubt over the integrity of the election. Twitter censored the president’s last two tweets, preventing users from sharing them without a comment.
“Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,” reads a disclaimer that appears above the posts.
Trump took an early lead in several key states that eventually went to Biden after mail-in ballots and votes from Democratic areas were counted.
By the end of Wednesday, both Michigan and Wisconsin were called for the former vice president.
This year saw an unprecedented number of Americans vote by mail because of the outbreak of Covid-19. As Trump questioned the seriousness of the pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans, and raised scepticism over mail-in voting, a greater share of Republicans than Democrats voted in person.
The first batch of results from Tuesday night was mostly from in-person votes that gave Trump an edge. In states where mail-in ballots were not processed until election day, it took longer for them to be counted, and once they were reported, they gave Biden the upper hand.
Still, Trump has been claiming baselessly that Biden’s surge involves something nefarious.
“All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud. Plenty of proof – just check out the Media,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “WE WILL WIN! America First!”
The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in several states challenging ballots over unsubstantiated claims of fraud. In Michigan and Georgia, federal judges dismissed the president’s legal complaints on Wednesday.
“There is no voter fraud,” said Ron Stockton, a political science professor at the University of Michigan – Dearborn. “The whole idea of stopping counting, this is unprecedented. We’ve never had this kind of thing.”
Stockton told MEE that mail-in voting is a common procedure that became more popular in 2020 as people wanted to avoid risking their lives by waiting in long lines during the pandemic.
“In several states, they already have universal mail ballots, and it’s worked perfectly fine. There have been no problems whatsoever,” Stockton said. “This is absolutely normal. And in the future, I would guess there would be more of this because standing in line for three hours as happens in some places is just too much.”
Stockton predicted that Trump’s Republican allies, who have been largely acquiescent to the president, will eventually stop backing him when it becomes clear that he lost.
“He’s a bully, and he can intimidate people into silence. But once he’s wounded, they’re going to abandon him.”