Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden took a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in the battleground state of Georgia early on Friday, edging closer to winning the White House in a nail-biting contest as a handful of undecided states continue to count votes.
Biden has a 253 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, according to most major television networks. Winning Georgia’s 16 electoral votes would put the former vice president on the cusp of the 270 he needs to secure the presidency.
Biden, 77, would become the next president by winning Pennsylvania, or by winning two out of the trio of Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Trump’s likeliest path appears narrower – he needs to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia and also to overtake Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.
Biden moved ahead of Trump by 917 votes in Georgia, where counting continued early on Friday.
The shift in Georgia came hours after Trump appeared at the White House to falsely claim the election was being “stolen” from him.
Trump had seen his lead steadily shrink in Georgia, a Southern state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton took the White House in 1992, as officials worked through tens of thousands of uncounted votes, many from Democratic strongholds such as Atlanta.
Trump is accusing the Democrats of trying to cheat him out of victory:
The Georgia secretary of state reported late on Thursday there were about 14 000 ballots still to count in the state.
The state also will have to sift through votes from military personnel and overseas residents as well as provisional ballots cast on Election Day by voters who had problems with their registration or identification.
Biden has been steadily chipping away at the Republican incumbent’s lead in Pennsylvania as well. His deficit had shrunk to just more than 18 000 there, by early on Friday, and was expected to continue falling with many of the ballots still to be counted being cast in Democratic areas.
In this video, Trump says Pennsylvania is part of a corrupt Democrat machine:
Meanwhile, backers of Trump, some carrying guns, ramped up demonstrations on Thursday night against what he has baselessly called a rigged election, in battleground states where votes were still being counted.
The demonstrations were largely peaceful, although Trump supporters occasionally shouted with counter protesters. Trump says the election is being stolen but there has been no evidence of fraud.
In Arizona, one of the closely contested states in the too-close-to-call race between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump and Biden supporters briefly scuffled outside the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix.
Several heavily armed right-wing groups assembled on the site as election workers counted votes inside, but the protests remained mostly peaceful despite mounting tension.
Local election officials continued to tabulate ballots across the country, in some cases processing an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots that accumulated as a preferred voting option during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the future of the presidency in the balance, restive encounters also unfolded in New York and Washington as well as swing-state cities such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Las Vegas, Nevada; Detroit, Michigan; and Atlanta, Georgia.
On the internet, Facebook removed a fast-growing group in which Trump supporters posted violent rhetoric, as it and other social media companies tackled baseless claims and potential violence.