The fate of the United States presidency hung in the balance Wednesday morning (Eastern Time), as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden battled for three familiar battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House.
It was unclear when or how quickly a winner could be determined. A late burst of votes in Michigan and Wisconsin gave Biden a small lead in those states, but it was still too early to call the race. Hundreds of thousands of votes were also outstanding in Pennsylvania.
Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Alaska also remain to be called with Biden needing to carry at least three to win, while Trump would need at least four.
However, the intense jockeying for the states was overshadowed by Trump’s extraordinary early-morning declaration from the White House calling for outstanding ballots not to be counted.
By early Wednesday, neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. Electoral College votes are assigned to each state, in part based on their population. Trump made premature claims of victories in several key states and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.
Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days after the election.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted that his state had over 1 million ballots to be counted and that he “promised Pennsylvanians that we would count every vote and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Trump suggested those ballots shouldn’t be counted. But Biden, briefly appearing in front of supporters in Delaware, urged patience, saying the election “ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted”.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”