With final races called, Biden ends with 306 Electoral College votes, Trump 232: Edison Research

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the state of Georgia, while Trump won North Carolina, Edison Research projected on Friday as it called the final two states in the U.S. presidential race.

Edison Research said Biden had won 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. Biden had surpassed the 270 Electoral College votes needed to capture the presidency on Saturday.

(Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Which states could tip U.S. election and when will they report results?

(Reuters) – Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s margins over Republican President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and Georgia grew on Friday, as the vote counts in five battleground states trickled in.

To capture the White House, a candidate must amass at least 270 votes in the Electoral College. Edison Research gave Biden a 253-214 lead over the incumbent.

Here is the state of play in the five states. The vote counts are supplied by Edison Research.

PENNSYLVANIA (20 electoral votes)

Biden has a lead of 13,558 votes, or a 0.2 percentage point margin, as of 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT) Friday, with 96% of the estimated vote counted. Under Pennsylvania law, a recount is automatic if the margin of victory is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage point of the total vote.

In Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, about 40,000 ballots remained to be counted, the majority of them provisional and military ballots, according to Pennsylvania’s election commissioner, who said the final count could take several days.

Friday is the last day that Pennsylvania can accept mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Election Day.

GEORGIA (16 electoral votes)

Biden is ahead of Trump by 1,554 votes as of 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT) Friday, with 99% of votes counted according to Edison. Trump needs both Pennsylvania and Georgia to win a second term.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, said he expects the margin to be just a few thousand votes, which would trigger an automatic recount. A recount must wait until Georgia’s results are certified, expected on or before Nov. 20.

About 9,000 military and overseas ballots were still outstanding and could be accepted if they arrive on Friday as long as they were postmarked Tuesday or earlier.

ARIZONA (11 electoral votes)

Biden has 50.0% versus Trump at 48.6%, a lead of 43,779 votes, with 93.0% of the expected vote tallied as of 2 p.m. (1900 GMT).

Maricopa County, which includes heavily populated Phoenix, has 142,000 early ballots left to count, as well as some provisional ballots. Biden has a 3.2 percentage point lead in the county, with 92.2% of the estimated vote counted.

The majority of Maricopa’s votes could be tallied as soon as Saturday, said Megan Gilbertson, the communications director for the county’s elections department.

NEVADA (6 electoral votes)

Biden led Trump by 20,137 votes, or 1.6 percentage points, with about 8% of the vote left to be counted.

The state’s biggest county, Clark, which includes Las Vegas, has 63,000 ballots remaining to be counted. The next update of the vote count is expected at around 7 p.m. ET (0000 GMT) and the majority of mail-in ballots is expected to be counted by Sunday.

NORTH CAROLINA (15 electoral votes)

Trump led by 76,737 votes, or 1.4 points, with about 5% of the vote left to counted.

State officials have said a full result would not be known until next week. The state allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday to be counted if they are received by Nov. 12.

(Reporting by Leela de Kretser and Tiffany Wu; Editing by David Clarke and Leslie Adler)

Timeline: Which states could tip U.S. election and when will they report results?

(Reuters) – The outcome of the U.S. presidential election hung in the balance on Thursday as five swing states continued to count their ballots.

To capture the White House, a candidate must amass at least 270 votes in the Electoral College.

Edison Research gave Democratic challenger Biden a 243 against 213 lead over Republican President Donald Trump in Electoral College votes. Other networks said Biden had won Wisconsin, which would give him another 10 votes.

Results in Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11) and Nevada (6) remained uncertain as of Thursday afternoon, according to Edison Research.

ARIZONA

Biden led by 2.4 percentage points as of Thursday afternoon, or more than 68,000 votes, with about 14% of the vote left to be counted.

More results from densely populated Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, were not expected until 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. EST, 0200 Friday GMT), the county elections department said.

There were at least 275,000 ballots in the county left to be counted, the elections department said. Biden was leading by 4 percentage points in the votes counted so far, indicating he was in a strong position to maintain his lead.

GEORGIA

Trump held onto to a lead of 0.3 percentage points, or 12,835 votes, with 2% percent of the vote left to be counted.

Counting was continuing on Thursday afternoon, with just 47,000 outstanding ballots, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a press conference.

NEVADA

Biden led Trump by 11,438 votes, or 0.9 percentage points, with about 12% of the vote left to be counted.

The state’s biggest county, Clark, expected to count the majority of its mail ballots by Saturday or Sunday, but would continue to count certain ballots after the weekend, according to its registrar, Joe Gloria.

All properly received ballots will be counted for up to nine days after the election, but the exact number left to be counted was unknown, said Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

The outstanding votes are mail-in ballots and those cast by voters who registered to vote at polling place on Election Day, she said.

NORTH CAROLINA

Trump led by more than 76,000 votes, or 1.4 points, with about 5% of the vote uncounted.

State officials have said a full result would not be known until next week. The state allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday to be counted if they are received by Nov. 12.

PENNSYLVANIA

Trump led by 1.7 percentage points, or more than 108,000 votes, with 8% of the vote outstanding.

About 370,000 ballots were still in the process of being counted on Thursday, according to the Department of State’s website, giving Biden a chance to catch Trump if enough of them were from Democratically friendly areas such as Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she expected the “overwhelming majority” to be counted by the end of Thursday.

Philadelphia County reported more than 252,000 ballots were cast by mail but did say how many remained to be counted.

A final count may not be available until at least Friday as Pennsylvania can accept mailed-in ballots up to three days after the election if they were postmarked by Tuesday.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Julia Harte; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)

Judge orders twice daily sweeps for states still receiving ballots in U.S. election

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – A judge on Thursday ordered twice daily sweeps at U.S. Postal Service (USPS) facilities serving states with extended ballot receipt deadlines as votes were still being counted in U.S. election battleground states.

Some states, including still undecided Nevada and North Carolina, are counting ballots that are received after Election Day Tuesday. Plaintiffs lawyers in a lawsuit said the Postal Service delivered roughly 150,000 ballots nationwide on Wednesday. Of those, roughly 8,000 or 9,000, were delivered after Tuesday even though they had been mailed by Sunday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said the processing centers must perform morning sweeps and then afternoon sweeps “to ensure that any identified local ballots can be delivered that day.”

USPS must report to headquarters “the total number of ballots identified and confirm that those ballots have been expedited for delivery to meet applicable extended state deadlines,” Sullivan added in an order.

Sullivan has been urging USPS to take all possible steps to ensure ballots are delivered before deadlines. He ordered the sweeps in response to lawsuits by groups including Vote Forward, the NAACP, and Latino community advocates.

“The pressing issues are where are the ballots and how do we get them delivered so they can be counted,” Sullivan said on Wednesday.

Ballots were still being counted by election officials in battleground states two days after polls closed in one of the most unusual elections in U.S. history because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Democratic candidate Joe Biden was cutting into Republican President Donald Trump’s leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia but retained slim margins in Nevada and Arizona.

USPS is using priority mail networks through Saturday to deliver any remaining ballots.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool)

Factbox: Seven states that are deciding the U.S. presidential election

(Reuters) – The U.S. presidential election will be decided in seven states where votes are still being counted that could swing the outcome to either Republican President Donald Trump or his challenger Joe Biden.

Biden held a lead in four of the states that together award 43 Electoral College votes, which could just allow the Democrat to reach the 270 votes he would need to win, while Trump led in three that hold 51 Electoral College votes, which would push his total to 265.

Here’s a state-by-state look:

ARIZONA

Electoral votes: 11

Rating: Leaned Democratic ahead of the vote

Vote counting: This one appears to be in the Biden column, but only two of the six news organizations that Reuters is following have called Arizona for Biden, and Edison Research has not yet done so. All absentee ballots had to arrive by the close of polls on Election Day. Ballots could be scanned and tabulated starting 14 days before Tuesday.

GEORGIA

Electoral votes: 16

Rating: Leaned Republican ahead of the vote

Vote counting: No organization had yet to call the presidential contest. Trump has a lead but Biden could make up ground in the uncounted votes around Atlanta. Absentee ballots had to be received by clerks by the close of polls on Election Day. Ballots could be opened and scanned on receipt, but they could not be tallied until after the polls closed on Tuesday. Officials in Fulton County, home to Atlanta and a tenth of all Georgians, warned on Tuesday that its vote count would not be finalized until Wednesday.

PENNSYLVANIA

Electoral votes: 20

Rating: Leaned Democratic ahead of the vote

Vote counting: No organization had yet to call the presidential contest in Pennsylvania. Trump appeared to have a substantial lead but many of the outstanding mail-in ballots yet to be counted were from strongly Democratic areas. Absentee ballot counting began at 7 a.m. on Election Day. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s top court that officials in the state could accept mail-in ballots three days after Tuesday’s election, so long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

WISCONSIN

Electoral votes: 10

Rating: Leaned Democratic ahead of the vote

Vote counting: Two of the six news organizations that Reuters is following have called Wisconsin for Biden, and a third has called Biden the apparent winner, pending a potential recount. Edison Research has not yet called the race. Biden held a thin lead within the margin that would allow the Trump campaign to call for a recount. The state’s election officials could not count mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 26. Ballots could not be counted until polls opened on Tuesday.

MICHIGAN

Electoral votes: 16

Rating: Leaned Democratic ahead of the vote

Vote counting: No organization has yet to call a winner in the presidential contest in Michigan, though Biden held a small lead. Absentee ballots had to arrive at clerks’ offices by the close of polls on Election Day. Some densely populated jurisdictions in the state, such as Detroit, began sorting absentee ballots on Monday, but the vast majority did not. Clerks could begin scanning and counting absentee ballots at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on Wednesday the state would have a clearer picture by the end of the day.

NORTH CAROLINA

Electoral votes: 15

Rating: Leaned Republican ahead of the vote

Vote counting: No organization has yet called a winner in the presidential election, though Trump held a lead. Edison and three news organizations have called the governor’s race for incumbent Roy Cooper, a Democrat.

North Carolina absentee ballots could be scanned weeks in advance, but results could not be tallied before Election Day. In a defeat for Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to block the state’s plan to tally ballots that are postmarked by Tuesday and arrive by Nov. 12.

NEVADA

Electoral votes: 6

Rating: Leaned Democratic ahead of the vote

Vote counting: No organization has yet to determine a winner in the presidential election. Biden held a razor-thin lead but final results could be delayed until later in the week. Absentee ballots could be processed upon receipt starting 14 days before the election, but results are not released until election night. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be counted so long as they arrive within seven days after the election.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Julia Harte, Rich McKay, Brendan O’Brien, Jarrett Renshaw and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Scott Malone and Angus MacSwan)

Explainer: ‘Dueling electors’ pose risk of U.S. vote deadlock

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – In the United States, a candidate becomes president by securing the most “electoral” votes rather than winning a majority of the national popular vote. Known as the Electoral College, the system allots electors to the 50 states and the District of Columbia largely based on their population.

It is theoretically possible for the governor and legislature, each representing a different political party, to submit two different election results, leading to so-called “dueling slates of electors.”

Below are details of how that might play out.

What are electors?

The U.S. president is selected by 538 electors, known as the Electoral College, with electors apportioned based on each state’s population. The popular vote in each state typically determines which candidate receives a state’s electoral votes.

The U.S. Constitution and the 1887 Electoral Count Act govern the counting of electoral votes and any related disputes. The electors will meet on Dec. 14 to cast votes, which are then counted by Congress on Jan. 6 in a process overseen by Vice President Mike Pence in his role as Senate president.

What are dueling electors?

States with close contests between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden could produce competing slates of electors, one certified by the governor and the other by the legislature.

The risk of this happening is heightened in the battleground states of Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have Democratic governors and Republican-controlled legislatures.

Some election law experts are concerned that an unprecedented volume of mailed-in votes and legal challenges will delay the outcome of the election for weeks, creating an extended period of uncertainty.

Trump has repeatedly said the election is rigged and made unfounded attacks on mail-in voting, which tends to favor Democrats.

If early returns show a Trump lead, experts say the president could press Republican-controlled legislatures to appoint electors favorable to him, claiming the initial vote count reflects the true outcome.

Governors in those same states could end up backing a separate slate of electors pledged to Biden if the final count showed the Democratic candidate had won.

Both sets of electors would meet and vote on Dec. 14 and the competing results would be sent to Congress.

Which set of electors would prevail?

Both chambers of Congress could accept the same slate of electors, which would almost certainly put the matter to rest.

The chambers could also split, which is more likely if the Republicans retain control of the Senate and Democrats hold onto their House majority.

If lawmakers cannot agree on a set of electors, the country will find itself in uncharted territory.

The Electoral Count Act, often described by academics as “unintelligible,” seems to favor the slate of electors certified by the state’s governor, according to Ned Foley, a professor at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

But Foley notes that some scholars and an analysis by the Congressional Research Service have rejected that conclusion.

Academics have sketched out several scenarios. Under one, Pence as president of the Senate could throw out both sets of a state’s electors. Another contemplates that the House of Representatives would end up choosing between Biden and Trump. There is even a scenario in which the Speaker of the House, currently Democrat Nancy Pelosi, could become acting president.

Would the U.S. Supreme Court get involved?

The Supreme Court may be called upon to interpret the Electoral College Act to break any deadlock.

A Supreme Court ruling helped resolve the 2000 election in favor of George Bush over Al Gore, but that case was about a recount in Florida and the decision was reached before electors met to cast their votes.

“I think there will be legal challenges,” said Jessica Levinson, director of Loyola Law School’s Public Service Institute. “But I could see a court saying this would really be better left up to Congress.”

Has this happened before?

In 1876, dueling electors in three states were deadlocked until a deal was brokered days before Inauguration Day.

The dispute was resolved after Republican Rutherford B. Hayes became president in exchange for withdrawing U.S. troops left over from the Civil War from Southern states.

“I hope it’s a very low probability event but 1876 is a reminder that it is not zero and we have come very close to falling over that cliff in our history,” Foley said.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Aurora Ellis)

New U.S. COVID-19 cases rise in 27 states for two straight weeks

(Reuters) – The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States has risen for two weeks in a row in 27 out of 50 states, with North Carolina and New Mexico both reporting increases above 50% last week, according to a Reuters analysis.

The United States recorded 316,000 new cases in the week ended Sept. 27, up 10% from the previous seven days and the highest in six weeks, according to the analysis of state and county data.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC News that the country was “not in a good place.”

“There are states that are starting to show (an) uptick in cases and even some increases in hospitalizations in some states. And, I hope not, but we very well might start seeing increases in deaths,” he said, without naming the states.

North Carolina reported a 60% jump in new cases to 13,799 last week, while New Mexico saw new infections rise 55% to 1,265. Texas also reported a 60% jump in new cases to 49,559, though that included a backlog of several thousand cases.

Deaths from COVID-19 have generally declined for the past six weeks, though still stand at more than 5,000 lives lost a week. Deaths are a lagging indicator and generally rise weeks after a surge in cases.

Testing in the country set a record of over 880,000 tests a day, surpassing the previous high in July of 820,000.

Nationally, the share of all tests that came back positive for COVID-19 held steady at about 5%, well below a recent peak of nearly 9% in mid-July, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

However, 28 states have positive test rates above the 5% level that the World Health Organization considers concerning. The highest positive test rates are 26% in South Dakota, 21% in Idaho and 19% in Wisconsin.

(Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Graphic by Chris Canipe; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

Trump encourages supporters to try to vote twice, sparking uproar

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has urged residents in the critical political battleground of North Carolina to try to vote twice in the Nov. 3 election, once by mail and once in person, causing a furor for appearing to urge a potential act of voter fraud.

“Let them send it in and let them go vote,” Trump said in an interview on Wednesday with WECT-TV in Wilmington, North Carolina. “And if the system is as good as they say it is then obviously they won’t be able to vote” in person.

Trump has repeatedly asserted, without evidence, that mail-in voting – expanded by some states because of the coronavirus pandemic – would increase fraud and disrupt the November election, although experts say voter fraud of any kind is extremely rare in the United States.

Voting more than once in an election is illegal and in some states, including North Carolina, it is a felony not only to vote more than once but also to induce another to do so.

Ballots are due to be mailed in North Carolina on Friday.

The state’s Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that Trump, a Republican, had “outrageously encouraged” North Carolinians “to break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election.”

Stein wrote: “Make sure you vote, but do NOT vote twice! I will do everything in my power to make sure the will of the people is upheld in November.”

Trump’s campaign and the White House later denied that he meant to tell people to vote twice.

“The president is not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News Channel on Thursday. “What he said very clearly there is make sure your vote is tabulated and if it is not, then vote.”

In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, Trump again urged his supporters to vote early by mail and then follow up by attempting to vote in person, however.

“On Election Day, or Early Voting go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted),” Trump wrote. “If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE.”

VOTING TWICE ‘A FELONY’

The Democratic National Committee accused Trump of encouraging voter fraud and said the president was undermining confidence in the fairness of the election.

“Let’s be clear: Voting by mail is a safe and secure way for Americans to participate in our democracy — and Trump should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder,” Reyna Walters-Morgan, the DNC’s director of voter protection, said in a statement.

Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for North Carolina’s state Board of Elections, said a person would not be able to cast two ballots, regardless of if they voted by mail or in-person first. The first vote that is received and processed is the one that counts, he said.

“Voting twice in an election is a felony,” Gannon said. “If you put a ballot in the mail, and it hasn’t arrived yet, and then you vote in-person before your absentee ballot has arrived, your in-person vote will count.”

He said if an absentee ballot showed up after a person had voted in-person, it would not be counted.

Many Americans vote by mail because they cannot make it to the polls in person. Nearly one in four voters cast presidential ballots by mail in 2016.

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to result in a record number of mail-in ballots this year as voters seek to avoid the risk of infection. Experts have cautioned the expected surge means a winner may not be clear on election night given the time it will take to count and verify all the ballots.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Michael Martina, Susan Heavey, James Oliphant, Kanishka Singh and Ann Maria Shibu; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Howard Goller and Sonya Hepinstall)

Isaias weakens into a tropical storm: U.S. NHC

(Reuters) – Isaias weakened into a tropical storm over eastern North Carolina, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday.

Isaias, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), is located about 35 miles (55 km) west southwest of Greenville, North Carolina, the Miami-based forecaster said.

Although Isaias is now a tropical storm it could still bring “strong winds, heavy rainfall, and the threat of tornadoes beginning to spread into southeastern Virginia,” the NHC added.

(Reporting by Anjishnu Mondal in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)

With U.S. under coronavirus siege, Chicago cracks down, Florida cases soar

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – The city of Chicago reimposed some coronavirus restrictions on Monday and the state of Florida reported more than 10,000 new cases for the sixth day in a row, as the pandemic showed few signs of abating in the United States.

In a rare ray of hope, New York state reported the fewest hospitalizations from the coronavirus in four months and New York City entered a new phase of reopening on Monday, but the progress, in the very city and state that were once the epicenter, was eclipsed by the grim news nearly everywhere else.

Metrics for the country have grown worse including a rising number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations along with rates of positive test results. The virus has killed 140,000 people in the United States and infected some 3.7 million, both figures leading the world.

Florida reported 10,347 new cases on Monday, the sixth day in a row the state has announced over 10,000 new infections. Another 92 people died in Florida, increasing the state’s death toll to 5,183.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new restrictions due to take effect on Friday including a ban on indoor service at bars and shutdown of personal services such as shaves and facials that require the removal of masks.

“While we aren’t near the peak of the pandemic from earlier this year, none of us wants to go back there,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The city of Los Angeles is on the brink of issuing a new stay-at-home order and at least 14 states have reported record hospitalizations so far in July, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas.

Meanwhile, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing for schools to reopen in a few weeks and resisting a federal mandate that people wear masks in public, part of what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called an “incompetent” federal government response.

“I’ve said to the president from Day One: This virus does not respond to politics,” Cuomo told a news conference. “The solution is medicine and science.”

WHITE HOUSE BRIEFINGS RESUME

The country remained “totally unprepared,” Cuomo said, as other states lagged in testing, contact tracing, and personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses.

“Their mistake was they listened to the president,” Cuomo said, while also blasting “stupid and reckless” people in his own state who persistently gather in large groups.

On Monday Trump, under fire over his administration’s response to the surging virus, said he would on Tuesday resume holding news briefings on the pandemic after a lengthy hiatus.

White House debate has centered on whether Trump should risk doing daily briefings after he was mocked for musing that people might inject household disinfectants as a way to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

Last Friday Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters she favored a return of the briefings, which she said had bolstered his approval ratings.

New York state, where the virus took hold early this year before spreading to other states, recorded only eight deaths on Sunday while the total number of people hospitalized for the disease fell to 716, the fewest since March 18, Cuomo said.

However a Reuters analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project showed cases rose by more than 5,000 in the past week, the first week-over-week increase since April, breaking a 13-week streak of declines.

New York City entered a new phase on Monday that will allow low-risk outdoor activity, entertainment at 33 percent capacity and professional sports events. But Major League Baseball’s Yankees and Mets will start their seasons in empty New York City ballparks, indoor dining in restaurants is still prohibited, and bars are subject to social distancing rules.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta, Maria Caspani, Doina Chiacu and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Howard Goller)