Live: Joe Biden extends lead as votes counted in final knife-edge races

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.

Mr Biden secured victories in Wisconsin and Michigan. Although some news agencies were calling Arizona for the Democrat, figures on Thursday morning showed his lead in the state was declining. However, a victory there 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. Shortly after 9am (US eastern time) on Thursday, Mr Trump tweeted “STOP THE COUNT!”

Mr Trump’s campaign said on Thursday it expected to launch additional legal action in Pennsylvania and Nevada and predicted that the Republican incumbent would emerge victorious .

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters on a conference call that Trump was “ alive and well” with regard to the presidential race. Campaign adviser Jason Miller said he expected legal action in Pennsylvania to ensure visibility on previous ballots that have been counted in that state.

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

Mr Trump was still holding on to leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia but Biden was narrowing the gap in the two states as the backlog of postal ballots were counted. A win in Pennsylvania alone, with its 20 votes in the electoral college, would be enough to make Biden president.

The president is likely to win North Carolina. Figures from Nevade remain static with Mr Biden holding a narrow lead.

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.