Joe Biden extends lead as counting continues through the night

Joe Biden is close to securing enough electoral college votes to achieve what he called a “victory for the American people” early on Thursday, as Donald Trump pursued legal avenues to the White House.

After securing victories in Wisconsin and Michigan, some news agencies were calling Arizona for the Democrat – which if confirmed – would give him 264 electoral college votes, meaning he would need to secure one of Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina or his home state Pennsylvania to reach the necessary 270 to claim the country’s top position.

Mr Trump, however, must win all four states. He has begun legal action in three of them to either stop the counting of votes or insist his team be provided greater access to scrutinise the process.

Main points

  • Election remains too close to call
  • Counting set to continue into third day
  • Arizona, Georgia, N Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania key to outcome
  • Biden closer to securing 270 electoral college votes
  • Trump takes legal action to stop vote counting

The president, seeking a second term in the White House, clocked up early victories in states including Florida, Ohio and Texas shortly after polls closed on Tuesday night. But Mr Biden outperformed the US president as absentee ballots began to be counted and focus turned to the three rust belt states that delivered victory for Mr Trump in 2016.

Mr Trump had earlier falsely claimed victory and threatened to go to the US Supreme Court, as he warned a “fraud on the American nation” was being carried out over the way votes were being counted.

Mr Biden’s campaign said the president’s extraordinary comments, made in the White House against a backdrop of US flags, were a “naked attempt to take away the democratic rights of American citizens”.

Early votes

Mr Trump said Tuesday’s election, which was characterised by a high number of mail-in and early votes, in part due to the coronavirus crisis, had been “an embarrassment to our country”.

“We were getting ready to win this election — frankly we did win this election,” Mr Trump said.

The president announced that “we will be going to the US Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop”.