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US election 2020: Biden wins Georgia recount as Trump setbacks mount

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US President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia has been confirmed by a recount, as legal efforts by Donald Trump’s allies to challenge his defeat were dismissed in three states.

The Democrat beat his Republican rival in Georgia by 12,284 votes, according to the audit required by state law.

Mr Biden said Mr Trump knew he was not going to win and had shown “incredible irresponsibility” by not conceding.

The Democrat is set to take office in January as the 46th US president.

Mr Biden’s victory margin in the public vote overall stands at more than 5.9 million. His victory in the US Electoral College system, which determines who becomes president, is projected to be 306 to 232 – far above the 270 he needs to win.

Mr Trump has so far refused to concede and has made allegations of widespread electoral fraud, without providing any evidence.

What happened in Georgia?

On Thursday, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, said the hand audit of ballots had not altered Mr Biden’s victory in the state.

“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Mr Raffensberger, a Republican, said in a statement.

“This is a credit to the hard work of our county and local elections officials who moved quickly to undertake and complete such a momentous task in a short period of time.”

The Democrats’ victory is their first in a presidential race in Georgia since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992.

The recount found the error rate was no greater than 0.73% in any county and Mr Biden’s margin of victory over Mr Trump remained at under 0.5%. The results will be certified on Friday.

Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis said the audit had gone “exactly as we expected” because, she said without evidence, the state had recounted illegal ballots.

But Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who serves as Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, told CNN on Thursday: “One of the big complaints is these machines somehow flipped votes or changed votes or did stuff. They didn’t, at least not in Georgia. We proved it.”

During the audit this week, nearly 6,000 untallied votes were found – paring back Mr Biden’s lead slightly – but they were the result of human error and not fraud, Mr Sterling has said.

Officials in Floyd County have fired their election manager over the matter, local media reported on Thursday.

What did Mr Biden say?

He was speaking after a virtual meeting with governors, including Democrats and Republicans, about the coronavirus crisis.

Asked about Mr Trump’s lack of concession, Mr Biden said the president was sending “incredibly damaging messages… to the rest of the world about how democracy functions” and that he would be remembered “as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history”.

“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks,” he continued, adding: “It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.”

Of the election result, the Democratic president-elect – who is due to take office in January – said: “The vast majority of people believe it’s legitimate.”

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“Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” he wrote.

“It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”

What of the legal challenges?

In a matter of hours on Thursday, Mr Trump’s allies were dealt legal setbacks in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Republicans lost their final lawsuit in Georgia as a court rejected their effort to block the results’ certification, which is due to happen on Friday. The judge who dismissed the case was appointed by Mr Trump last year.

In Arizona, a judge rejected a lawsuit filed last week by the state Republican Party seeking a new audit of ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix – the state capital and largest city.

In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign lost their bid in state court to throw out more than 2,000 postal ballots.

At a Thursday briefing, Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani continued to lay out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and accusations of electoral fraud.

He railed against the reporting of his team’s legal challenges, saying the media had shown an “irrational pathological hatred for the president”.

Mr Giuliani also said the campaign was withdrawing its last remaining lawsuit in Michigan. He said it had achieved its aim of stopping the certification of the result in one key county.

However, the vice-chairman of Wayne County’s canvassing board said an attempt by its two Republican members to rescind their earlier certification of the result was invalid, and the certification was binding.

One of the Republicans said Mr Trump had called her personally after the vote had been certified “to make sure I was safe”.

Mr Biden won the county by a huge margin, according to unofficial results, and prevailed in Michigan by about 146,000 votes.

What could Trump’s next move be?

One possibility that US media are speculating on is that he will try to get Republican-friendly state legislatures in key states to override the choice of voters and instead select members of the US Electoral College who would be favourable to the president.

Mr Trump has invited Michigan’s Republican lawmakers to the White House on Friday, hinting at a possible change in tactics.

Instead of winning by direct popular vote, a US president must accumulate a majority of “electors” that each state is designated according to its congressional representation.

Most states determine these based on who won the popular vote there.

But federal law says statehouse legislators have the power to pick electors if the state has “failed to make a choice”.

This would appear a long shot as no evidence of electoral fraud has been shown and to potentially disenfranchise millions of voters would spark uproar.

Reuters news agency quoted one source familiar with the Trump strategy as saying it was now a “more targeted approach towards getting the legislators engaged”.

But one of the Michigan lawmakers going to the White House, Mike Shirkey, said earlier this week that the legislature appointing electors was “not going to happen”.

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Donald Trump says ‘time will tell’ who will be next president but still won’t concede defeat

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Donald Trump seemed to hint for the first time that he may no longer soon occupy the White House, as he spoke publicly for the first time since the US presidential election was called for Joe Biden.

In ruling out a national coronavirus lockdown under his tenure, he appeared to acknowledge that the decision might not be his much longer.

“This administration will not be going to a lockdown,” Trump told an audience in the White House Rose Garden, in his first public remarks since Saturday. “Hopefully whatever happens in the future, who knows, which administration it will be I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”

Trump has repeatedly tweeted that there was fraud in the election despite no evidence to support his claims. More lawsuits were thrown out of court on Friday and his team dropped a claim in Arizona.

The outgoing president has so far refused to concede the election. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, said Trump is “not even at that point yet” when it comes to conceding to Biden.

Some experts are concerned that Trump is preventing the incoming Biden administration from a smooth transition into government.

Federal and state officials in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity unit have described the election as “the most secure in American history“, saying they have seen no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in last week’s vote.

Former President Barack Obama told CBS on Friday that Republican officials who were “humouring” Trump were “delegitimising not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally.”

COVID-19 continues to rage

Joe Biden, for his part, has not endorsed a nationwide shutdown, but he appealed for Trump to take “urgent action” to curtail the spread of the virus. “The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now,” he said in a statement Friday.

The US has repeatedly hit record high daily infection levels, recording more than 100,000 cases a day since early November. Trump attributed the record rise in cases in part to the country’s testing programme, despite rising hospitalisations in the US.

Trump also touted the country’s virus response, commending news that a vaccine candidate from Pfizer was determined to be 90% effective, which he called amazing.

“No medical breakthrough of this scope or magnitude has ever been achieved this rapidly,” said Trump, who estimated that under a “different administration” it wouldn’t have been possible, despite unprecedented global efforts to tackle COVID-19.

Trump said a vaccine would ship in “a matter of weeks” to vulnerable populations, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet been asked to grant the necessary emergency approvals.

There’s also no information yet as to whether the vaccine worked in vulnerable populations or only in younger, healthier study volunteers.

Vice President Mike Pence said the good news of the day was “help is on the way”. Pence said people should wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask if distancing isn’t possible.

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US election 2020: What legal challenges is Trump planning?

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Democrat Joe Biden has been declared president-elect, but President Donald Trump is still planning legal challenges to the results in some key states.

His lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that it would be wrong for Mr Trump to concede because: “There is strong evidence that this was an election that in at least three or four states, and possibly 10, it was stolen.”

The Trump campaign is yet to provide this “strong evidence” but says it plans to lodge lawsuits in several key states on Monday.

Here’s what we know so far.

Pennsylvania

Mr Giuliani says further lawsuits will be filed over a lack of access for poll watchers in the state.

Poll watchers are people who observe the counting of votes, with the aim of ensuring transparency. They are allowed in most states as long as they are registered before election day.

In some areas this year, there were restrictions put in place before election day, in part due to coronavirus. There are also capacity limits set to avoid intimidation.

A 20-foot (six-metre) perimeter was set in the Philadelphia counting facility but this was challenged and a court ruling on Thursday said it should be reduced to six feet – as long as poll watchers adhered to Covid-19 protocols.

The Trump campaign has filed a federal lawsuit accusing election officials of violating the judge’s order.

Mr Giuliani said: “Even when a court order was obtained to allow the Republican inspectors to get six feet closer, they moved the people counting the ballots six further feet away.”

But the election officials insist they behaved properly.

On 5 November, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said: “Every candidate and every political party is allowed to have an authorised representative in the room observing the process. Some jurisdictions including Philly are also livestreaming, so you can literally watch their counting process.”

Another ongoing case disputes how long voters should be able to provide proof of identification if it’s missing or unclear on their postal ballots.Voters are currently allowed to fix their ballots up to 12 November, but the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit seeking to reduce this deadline to 9 November.

The legal challenge in Pennsylvania also centres on the state’s decision to count ballots that are postmarked by election day but arrive up to three days later. Republicans are seeking an appeal.

Matthew Weil, director of the Bipartisan Policy Research Center’s elections project, says he is most concerned about this dispute as the nation’s top court – the US Supreme Court – was deadlocked on it before the election. This was before Justice Amy Coney Barrett, appointed by President Trump, was confirmed.

“I do think there is a risk that some of those [postal] ballots that were cast by election day and not received until Friday may be discarded”, he said.

But Mr Weil added: “My guess is that it’s not going to be a huge number of ballots that could be thrown out,” so the election would have to be “very, very close for that to matter”.

Michigan

Mr Trump won the state in 2016 by his slimmest margin – just over 10,700 votes – and Mr Biden has been projected as the winner here in 2020.

On 4 November, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit to stop the count over claims of a lack of access to observe the process.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying there was insufficient evidence that oversight procedures weren’t being followed.

Wisconsin

The president’s campaign has said it will request a recount in Wisconsin “based on abnormalities seen” on election day, although this wouldn’t require a lawsuit.

It’s unclear when this recount would take place, since typically these don’t happen until after officials finish reviewing the votes.

The state’s deadline for this part of the process is 17 November.

Columbia University Law School professor Richard Briffault says there was a recount in Wisconsin in 2016 as well, and it “changed about a hundred votes”.

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Nevada

The Nevada Republican Party tweeted saying: “Thousands of individuals have been identified who appear to have violated the law by casting ballots after they moved from Nevada.”

The president’s legal team produced a list of people who it claimed had moved out of state but voted.

But – as pointed out by Politifact – the list alone does not prove a violation of law.

People who leave the state within 30 days before an election can still vote in Nevada. Students from Nevada – who are studying elsewhere – can also vote.

The case is focused on voters in Clark County, but the county’s registrar has said: “We are not aware of any improper ballots that are being processed.”

In a separate case, a federal judge blocked attempts by the Republicans to stop the use of a signature verification machine, rejecting allegations that it wasn’t able to check signatures correctly.

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Georgia

A lawsuit was filed in Georgia’s Chatham County to pause the count, alleging problems with ballot processing.

Georgia Republican chairman David Shafer tweeted that party observers saw a woman “mix over 50 ballots into the stack of uncounted absentee ballots”.

On 5 November, a judge dismissed this lawsuit, saying there was “no evidence” of improper ballot mixing.

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Arizona

The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Arizona on Saturday, claiming some legal votes were rejected.

The case cites declarations by some poll watchers and two voters who claim they had problems with voting machines.

The lawsuit is under review, but Arizona’s Secretary of State said it was “grasping at straws”.

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Could it reach the Supreme Court?

Early on Wednesday, Mr Trump claimed voting fraud – without providing evidence – and said: “We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court”.

If the election result is challenged, it would first require legal teams to challenge it in the state courts.

State judges would then need to uphold the challenge and order a recount.

The Supreme Court could then be asked be asked to weigh in.

 

Prof Briffault says: “There’s no standard process for bringing election disputes to the Supreme Court. It’s very unusual and it would have to involve a very significant issue.”

To date, the 2000 election is the only one to be decided by the US Supreme Court.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore lost Florida – and the presidential election – by 537 votes out of a total of almost six million cast in the state.

This was followed by a highly controversial recount process that lasted over a month – until the Supreme Court ruled to stop recounting and in favour of Republican George W Bush who became president.

Biden Moves Quickly on US Government Transition

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WASHINGTON – Democrat Joe Biden, the projected winner of the long and contentious U.S. presidential election over Republican President Donald Trump, moved quickly Sunday to start preparations to take over the U.S. government when he is inaugurated January 20 and reverse some key Trump policies.

President-elect Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, launched a website for their transition to power, saying they would immediately focus on the coronavirus pandemic, the recession in the world’s biggest economy wrought by the pandemic, climate change and systemic racism.

“We are preparing to lead on Day One, ensuring the Biden-Harris administration is able to take on the most urgent challenges we face: protecting and preserving our nation’s health, renewing our opportunity to succeed, advancing racial equity, and fighting the climate crisis.”
They declared, “We stand together as one America. We will rise stronger than we were before.”

Aides say that on his first days in office, Biden plans for the United States to rejoin the Paris climate accord that Trump withdrew from and reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

Biden plans to repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and to reinstate the program that allows young people, often called “Dreamers,” who were brought illegally into the U.S. as children, to remain in the country.

Watch related video by Michelle Quinn
During the campaign, Biden also said he plans to rejoin the international accord to restrain Iran’s nuclear weapons development that Trump rebuked and pulled the U.S. from.

U.S. transitions in power can often bring swift policy shifts but the one from Trump to Biden could be among the most jarring in recent U.S. political history.

One Biden aide told CNN, “Across the board we will continue laying the foundation for the incoming Biden-Harris administration to successfully restore faith and trust in our institutions and lead the federal government.”

During his four years in the White House, Trump has often delighted in pushing aside political norms, and the likely end of his effort to win a second four-year term in the White House after the 2020 campaign is no different.

Trump has not conceded

He has declined to concede or call Biden.

Trump is contesting the outcome through lawsuits, claiming, without evidence, that vote-counting irregularities in several states where Biden won narrow pluralities and all their electoral votes, would reverse the result and hand him a second term.

The Trump campaign is pursuing multiple court cases starting Monday, although there were scant reports of irregularities during last Tuesday’s voting or in the days of vote counting since then, tabulations that are still going on in numerous states even though the outcome in almost all the country’s 50 states is not in doubt.
Majority of electoral votes

A majority of 270 votes in the country’s 538-member Electoral College, with the most populous states holding the most sway, determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote even as Biden currently holds a 4-million vote edge in the national vote count.

Biden passed the 270-vote Electoral College majority threshold on Saturday when it became apparent, he had amassed a narrow, but decisive popular vote lead in the eastern state of Pennsylvania and won its 20 electoral votes.

At that point, all major television news organizations, including Trump favorite Fox News, and leading newspapers, declared Biden the winner.

Trump has railed against the outcome, while praising himself Saturday on Twitter, saying, “71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!”
Americans celebrate Biden-Harris victory

Thousands of people massed in the streets in large Democratic-dominated cities across the country on Saturday to celebrate Trump’s defeat, including in Washington, outside the White House. Some shouted, “You’re fired,” Trump’s signature line from his one-time television reality show, “The Apprentice,” before he won the presidency in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who is leading the bipartisan effort planning the January 20 inauguration, said it “seems unlikely” that vote projections showing Biden as the presidential winner would change in the coming days.

But he told ABC’s “This Week” show it was reasonable for Republicans to wait a little longer for state election officials to tabulate the official outcome and in some cases, such as in the southern state of Georgia where Biden leads narrowly, to conduct a recount.

@Transition46

Biden and Harris launched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts using the handle @Transition46, a reference that Biden will be the country’s 46th president in its 244-year history.

On the Biden-Harris website, BuildBackBetter.com, he said, “We’ll rise stronger than we were before. We will act on the first day of my presidency to get COVID under control. We will act to pass my economic plan that will finally reward work, not wealth, in this country. We’ll act to restore faith in our democracy and our faith in one another.

“We’ll once more become one nation, under God, indivisible, a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed,” he said.

Biden, during the vitriolic campaign, regularly assailed Trump for his handling of the pandemic as the death toll of Americans rose to a world-leading total of 237,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The president-elect plans to announce a COVID-19 task force on Monday to map out a plan to curb the infection when he takes office, and frequently has called on Americans to wear face masks, as health experts have adamantly urged. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Record-breaking coronavirus deaths

On Saturday, the United States recorded more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day.

The Biden-Harris transition website lays out a seven-point plan against the coronavirus, including “regular, reliable, and free testing” for all Americans, an “effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines” once they become available and an attempt to implement a nationwide mask mandate that many oppose as an intrusion on their individual freedom.

“The American people deserve an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” the website reads.

The website said it would also address racial inequity and police reform in the U.S. by working with Congress to institute a “nationwide ban on chokeholds” during police arrests of criminal suspects, stop “the transfer of weapons of war to police forces,” establish a “model use of force standard” and create a “national police oversight commission.”

The Biden-Harris website also said, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.”

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US election: Joe Biden pushes forward with plans for office

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US President-elect Joe Biden is to make tackling the coronavirus pandemic his top priority following his win over Donald Trump, his team says.

Announcing the first steps in his transition plan, his team said there would be more testing and Americans would be asked to wear masks.

On Monday, Mr Biden is expected to name a 12-member coronavirus task force.

Mr Trump has yet to concede and Mr Biden’s win remains a projection as key states are still counting votes.

However, the Democrat is forging ahead with his plans for assuming power in January after major US networks called the election in his favour on Saturday.

That reportedly also includes a slew of executive orders – written orders issued by the president to the federal government that do not require congressional approval – aimed at reversing controversial Trump policies. According to US media:

Mr Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, which the US officially left on Wednesday
He will reverse the decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization
He will end the travel ban on citizens from seven mostly Muslim countries

He will reinstate an Obama-era policy of granting immigration status to undocumented migrants who entered the US as children

In his first speech as president-elect on Saturday, Mr Biden said it was “time to heal” the US and vowed “not to divide but to unify” the country. Addressing Trump supporters directly, he said: “We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”

He and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris have launched a website for the transition, saying the team will also focus on the economy, tackling racism and climate change.

The projected election result means Mr Trump becomes the first one-term president since the 1990s. The Republican president’s campaign has filed a barrage of lawsuits in various states but election officials say there is no evidence that the vote was rigged against him, as he has said.

Meanwhile, the General Services Administration, a government agency tasked with recognising the president-elect and beginning the transition process, has so far not done so.

Its administrator Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Mr Trump, has given no indication when this could happen. Until then, Mr Biden’s transition team cannot access government funds or communicate with the federal agencies it will be staffing.

Media reports suggested senior Republicans remained divided over how to react to Mr Biden’s victory, with some refusing to publicly acknowledge the result of the ballot.

The Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, told Fox News that all recounts and legal challenges should be completed, adding: “Then and only then, America will decide who won the race.”

But former Republican President George W Bush congratulated Mr Biden on his victory, saying the American people could have confidence that the election had been fundamentally fair and that its outcome was clear. He also congratulated Mr Trump on a hard-fought campaign.

What’s Joe Biden’s pandemic plan?

The president-elect is vowing a major shift in the way the White House approaches coronavirus after Mr Trump repeatedly downplayed its gravity and resisted public health measures including wearing masks and social distancing.

The Biden team has said it will ensure all Americans had access to regular and free testing and provide “clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance”. The task force will be led by former surgeon-general Vivek Murthy and a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler.

Mr Biden also wants rules mandating the wearing of masks across the country, which he says would save thousands of lives. He plans to call on every American to wear a mask when they are around people outside their own household and wants state governors and local authorities to make this obligatory.

The president-elect has regularly appeared in public wearing a mask while Mr Trump has largely avoided doing so.

US cases rose by more than 100,000 on Sunday for the fifth day in a row while more than 237,000 people have died. Earlier this month top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci said the US “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as the country approached winter and people spent more time congregating indoors.

Mr Biden also announced plans to reboot the virus-hit US economy, which has seen millions more people become unemployed, by boosting manufacturing, investing in infrastructure, making childcare more affordable and reducing the wealth gap between different ethnic groups.

How will he tackle ‘systemic racism’?

In another break with the Trump era – which saw Mr Trump accused of stoking of racial tensions and failing to condemn white supremacist groups – Mr Biden aims to make addressing racism a central pillar of his administration.

He wants measures including better access to affordable housing for black and minority communities, fair treatment and pay for workers and enabling the Federal Reserve – the US central bank, which sets monetary policy – to do more to reduce racial wealth disparities.

Mr Biden also wants to transform US policing by banning the use of chokeholds that have been involved in high-profile deaths at the hands of police, stopping the transfer of “weapons of war” to police forces and creating a national police oversight commission.

He further plans to reduce the US prison population, which at more than two million people is the biggest in the world and includes a disproportionate number of black and minority inmates, and focus more on “redemption and rehabilitation”.

“Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system,” his plan says.

The US has been roiled by protests against police brutality in the run-up to the election. Footage of the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May sparked outrage around the world, and exit poll showed that racial inequality was the second-biggest factor determining how people voted after the economy.

What are Mr Trump’s plans?

President Trump will hold a series of campaign-style rallies across the country to build support for the legal fights challenging the outcome, campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

The BBC projected Mr Biden’s victory on Saturday after gains in the key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Nevada propelled him over the 270 electoral college vote threshold required to clinch the White House.

Mr Trump has not spoken in public since the numbers were announced, but he has repeated previous claims of voter fraud in tweets, which have been marked by Twitter as a “disputed” claim. The Trump campaign has indicated their candidate does not plan to concede.

After Mr Biden was projected to win Mr Trump remained defiant, saying Mr Biden was “falsely posing as the winner” and insisting the election was “far from over”. The president took more than 70 million votes, the second-highest tally in history.

Mr Trump has vowed to contest the election results on several fronts. A recount will be held in Georgia, where the margins are tight, and Mr Trump wants the same in Wisconsin. He has also vowed to take legal action to the Supreme Court, alleging voting fraud without evidence.

If the election result is challenged, it would require legal teams to challenge this in the state courts. State judges would then need to uphold the challenge and order a recount, and Supreme Court justices could then be asked to overturn a ruling.

The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit over ballots cast on election day in Arizona that it claims were incorrectly rejected. Arizona’s secretary of state, however, said in a statement that the case was “grasping at straws”.

What happens next?

Votes in some states are continuing to be counted and results are never official until final certification, which occurs in each state in the weeks following the election.

This must be done before 538 chosen officials (electors) from the Electoral College – which officially decides who wins the election – meet in their state capitals to vote on 14 December.

The electors’ votes usually mirror the popular vote in each state. However, in some states this is not a formal requirement.

The new president is officially sworn into office on 20 January after a transition period to give them time to appoint cabinet ministers and make plans.

The handover of power takes place at a ceremony known as the inauguration, which is held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC.

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US election results: Five reasons Biden won

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After nearly 50 years in public office, and a lifetime of presidential ambitions, Joe Biden has captured the White House.

It was not the campaign anyone predicted. It took place amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic and unprecedented social unrest. He was running against an unconventional, precedent-defying incumbent. But in his third try for the presidency, Biden and his team found a way to navigate the political obstacles and claim a victory that, while narrow in the electoral college tally, is projected to surpass Trump’s overall national total by millions of votes.

These are the five reasons the son of a car salesman from Delaware finally won the presidency.

1. Covid, Covid, Covid

Perhaps the biggest reason Biden won the presidency was something entirely out of his control.

The coronavirus pandemic, as well as claiming more than 230,000 lives, also transformed American life and politics in 2020. And in the final days of the general election campaign, Donald Trump himself seemed to acknowledge this.

“With the fake news, everything is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” the president said at a rally last week in Wisconsin, where cases have spiked in recent days.

The media focus on Covid, however, was a reflection rather than a driver of the public’s concern about the pandemic – which translated into unfavourable polling on the president’s handling of the crisis. A poll last month by Pew Research, suggested Biden held a 17 percentage point lead over Trump when it came to confidence about their handling of the Covid outbreak.

The pandemic and the subsequent economic decline knocked Trump off his preferred campaign message of growth and prosperity. It also highlighted concerns that many Americans had about his presidency, over its occasional lack of focus, penchant for questioning science, haphazard handling of policies large and small, and prioritisation of the partisan. The pandemic was a lead weight on Trump’s approval ratings, which, according to Gallup, dipped to 38% at one point in the summer – one that the Biden campaign exploited.

2. Low-key campaign

Over the course of his political career, Biden established a well-earned reputation for talking himself into trouble. His propensity for gaffes derailed his first presidential campaign in 1987, and helped ensure that he never had much of a shot when he ran again in 2007.

In his third try for the Oval Office, Biden still had his share of verbal stumbles, but they were sufficiently infrequent that they never became more than a short-term issue.

Part of the explanation for this, of course, is that the president himself was an unrelenting source of news cycle churn. Another factor was that there were bigger stories – the coronavirus pandemic, protests after the death of George Floyd and economic disruption – dominating national attention.

But at least some credit should be given to a concerted strategy by the Biden campaign to limit their candidate’s exposure, keeping a measured pace in the campaign, and minimising the chances that fatigue or carelessness could create problems.

Perhaps in a normal election, when most Americans weren’t worried about limiting their own exposure to a virus, this strategy would have backfired. Maybe then Trump’s derisive “hidin’ Biden” jabs would have taken their toll.

The campaign sought to stay out of the way and let Trump be the one whose mouth betrayed him – and, in the end, it paid off.

3. Anyone but Trump

The week before election day, the Biden campaign unveiled its final television adverts with a message that was remarkably similar to the one offered in his campaign kickoff last year, and his nomination acceptance speech in August.

The election was a “battle for the soul of America”, he said, and a chance for the national to put what he characterised as the divisiveness and chaos of the past four years behind it.

Beneath that slogan, however, was a simple calculation. Biden bet his political fortunes on the contention that Trump was too polarising and too inflammatory, and what the American people wanted was calmer, steadier leadership.

“I’m just exhausted by Trump’s attitude as a person,” says Thierry Adams, a native of France who after 18 years living in Florida cast his first vote in a presidential election in Miami last week.

Democrats succeeded in making this election a referendum on Trump, not a binary choice between the two candidates.

Biden’s winning message was simply that he was “not Trump”. A common refrain from Democrats was that a Biden victory meant Americans could go for weeks without thinking about politics. It was meant as a joke, but it contained a kernel of truth.

4. Stay in the centre

During the campaign to be the Democratic candidate, Biden’s competition came from his left, with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who ran well-financed and organised campaigns that generated rock-concert sized crowds.

Despite this pressure from his liberal flank, Biden stuck with a centrist strategy, refusing to back universal government-run healthcare, free college education, or a wealth tax. This allowed him maximise his appeal to moderates and disaffected Republicans during the general election campaign.

This strategy was reflected in Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate when he could have opted for someone with stronger support from the party’s left wing.

The one place where Biden moved closer to Sanders and Warren was on the environment and climate-change – perhaps calculating that the benefits of appealing to younger voters for whom the issue is a priority was worth the risk of alienating voters in energy-dependent swing-state industries. It was the exception, however, that proved the rule.

“It’s no secret that we’ve been critical of Vice-President’s Biden’s plans and commitments in the past,” said Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the environmental activist group the Sunrise Movement in July. “He’s responded to many of those criticisms: dramatically increasing the scale and urgency of investments, filling in details on how he’d achieve environmental justice and create good union jobs, and promising immediate action.”

5. More money, fewer problems

Earlier this year, Biden’s campaign coffers were running on empty. He entered the general election campaign at a decided disadvantage to Trump, who had spent virtually his entire presidency amassing a campaign war chest that approached a billion dollars.

From April onward, however, the Biden campaign transformed itself into a fundraising juggernaut, and – in part because of profligacy on the part of the Trump campaign – ended up in a much stronger financial position than his opponent. At the beginning of October, the Biden campaign had $144m more cash on hand than the Trump operation, allowing it to bury the Republicans in a torrent of television advertising in almost every key battleground state.

Money isn’t everything, of course. Four years ago, the Clinton campaign had a sizeable monetary lead over Trump’s shoestring operation.

But in 2020, when in-person campaigning was curtailed by coronavirus and Americans across the country spent considerably more time consuming media in their homes, Biden’s cash advantage let him reach voters and push his message out until the very end. It allowed him to expand the electoral map, putting money into what once seemed to be longshot states like Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa. Most of those bets didn’t pay off, but he put Trump on the defence, flipping what was once reliably conservative Arizona and staying highly competitive in Georgia.

Money gives a campaign options and initiative – and Biden put his advantage to good use.

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US election: Joe Biden pushes forward with plans for office

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US President-elect Joe Biden is to make tackling the coronavirus pandemic his top priority following his win over Donald Trump, his team says.

Announcing the first steps in his transition plan, his team said there would be more testing and Americans would be asked to wear masks.

He will also focus on the economy, tackling racism and climate change.

Mr Trump has yet to concede and Mr Biden’s win remains a projection as key states are still counting votes.

However the Democrat is forging ahead with his plans for assuming power in January after major US networks called the election in his favour on Saturday.
That reportedly also includes a slew of executive orders – written orders issued by the president to the federal government that do not require congressional approval – aimed at reversing controversial Trump policies. According to US media:

Mr Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, which the US officially left on Wednesday
He will reverse the decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization
He will end the travel ban on citizens from seven mostly Muslim countries
He will reinstate an Obama-era policy of granting immigration status to undocumented migrants who entered the US as children

In his first speech as president-elect on Saturday, Mr Biden said it was “time to heal” the US and vowed “not to divide but to unify” the country. Addressing Trump supporters directly, he said: “We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”

He and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris have launched a website for the transition.

The projected election result means Mr Trump becomes the first one-term president since the 1990s. The Republican president’s campaign has filed a barrage of lawsuits in various states but election officials say there is no evidence that the vote was rigged against him, as he has said.

In another development, former Republican President George W Bush congratulated Mr Biden on his election victory, saying the American people could have confidence that the election had been fundamentally fair and that its outcome was clear.

He also congratulated Mr Trump on a hard-fought campaign.
What’s Biden’s pandemic plan?

The president-elect is vowing a major shift in the way the White House approaches coronavirus after Mr Trump repeatedly downplayed its gravity and resisted public health measures including wearing masks and social distancing.
The Biden team said it would ensure all Americans had access to regular and free testing and provide “clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance” to communities.

Mr Biden also wants rules mandating the wearing of masks across the country, which he says would save thousands of lives. He plans to call on every American to wear a mask when they are around people outside their own household and wants state governors and local authorities to make this obligatory.

The president-elect has regularly appeared in public wearing a mask while Mr Trump has largely avoided doing so.
US cases rose by more than 125,000 on Saturday for the third day in a row and deaths exceeded 1,000 for the fifth day in a row. More than 237,000 people have died. Earlier this month top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci said the US “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as the country approached winter and people spent more time congregating indoors.

Mr Biden also announced plans to reboot the virus-hit US economy, which has seen millions more people become unemployed, by boosting manufacturing, investing in infrastructure, making childcare more affordable and reducing the wealth gap between different ethnic groups.
How will he tackle ‘systemic racism’?

In another break with the Trump era – which saw Mr Trump accused of stoking of racial tensions and failing to condemn white supremacist groups – Mr Biden aims to make addressing racism a central pillar of his administration.

He wants measures including better access to affordable housing for black and minority communities, fair treatment and pay for workers and enabling the Federal Reserve – the US central bank, which sets monetary policy – to do more to reduce racial wealth disparities.

Mr Biden also wants to transform US policing by banning the use of chokeholds that have been involved in high-profile deaths at the hands of police, stopping the transfer of “weapons of war” to police forces and creating a national police oversight commission.

He further plans to reduce the US prison population, which at more than 2 million people is the biggest in the world and includes a disproportionate number of black and minority inmates, and focus more on “redemption and rehabilitation”.

US cases rose by more than 125,000 on Saturday for the third day in a row and deaths exceeded 1,000 for the fifth day in a row. More than 237,000 people have died. Earlier this month top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci said the US “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as the country approached winter and people spent more time congregating indoors.

Mr Biden also announced plans to reboot the virus-hit US economy, which has seen millions more people become unemployed, by boosting manufacturing, investing in infrastructure, making childcare more affordable and reducing the wealth gap between different ethnic groups.
How will he tackle ‘systemic racism’?

In another break with the Trump era – which saw Mr Trump accused of stoking of racial tensions and failing to condemn white supremacist groups – Mr Biden aims to make addressing racism a central pillar of his administration.

He wants measures including better access to affordable housing for black and minority communities, fair treatment and pay for workers and enabling the Federal Reserve – the US central bank, which sets monetary policy – to do more to reduce racial wealth disparities.

Mr Biden also wants to transform US policing by banning the use of chokeholds that have been involved in high-profile deaths at the hands of police, stopping the transfer of “weapons of war” to police forces and creating a national police oversight commission.

He further plans to reduce the US prison population, which at more than 2 million people is the biggest in the world and includes a disproportionate number of black and minority inmates, and focus more on “redemption and rehabilitation”.
“Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system,” his plan says.

The US has been roiled by protests against police brutality in the run-up to the election. Footage of a police officer killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis in May sparked outrage around the world. The US election exit poll showed that racial inequality was the second biggest factor determining how people voted after the economy.
Trump ‘not planning to concede’

The BBC projected Mr Biden’s victory on Saturday after gains in the key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Nevada propelled him over the 270 electoral college vote threshold required to clinch the White House.

Mr Trump has not spoken in public since the numbers were announced, but he has repeated previous claims of voter fraud in tweets, which Twitter soon marked as a “disputed” claim. The Trump campaign has indicated their candidate does not plan to concede.
President Donald Trump returns to the White House after US media declared Joe Biden’s victory

After Mr Biden was projected to win Mr Trump remained defiant, saying Mr Biden was “falsely posing as the winner” and insisting the election was “far from over”. The president took more than 70 million votes, the second-highest tally in history.
What happens now

Mr Trump has vowed to contest the election results on several fronts. A recount will be held in Georgia, where the margins are tight, and Mr Trump wants the same in Wisconsin. He has also vowed to take legal action to the Supreme Court, alleging voting fraud without evidence.

If the election result is challenged, it would require legal teams to challenge this in the state courts. State judges would then need to uphold the challenge and order a recount, and Supreme Court justices could then be asked to overturn a ruling.
On Saturday, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit over ballots cast on election day in Arizona that it claims were incorrectly rejected. Arizona’s secretary of state, however, said in a statement that the case was “grasping at straws”.

Meanwhile, votes in some states are continuing to be counted and results are never official until final certification, which occurs in each state in the weeks following the election.

This must be done before 538 chosen officials (electors) from the Electoral College – which officially decides who wins the election – meet in their state capitals to vote on 14 December.

The electors’ votes usually mirror the popular vote in each state. However, in some states this is not a formal requirement.

The new president is officially sworn into office on 20 January after a transition period to give them time to appoint cabinet ministers and make plans.

The handover of power takes place at a ceremony known as the inauguration, which is held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC. After the ceremony, the new president makes their way to the White House to begin their four-year term in office.

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US election 2020: Agony and ecstasy as Americans react to Biden’s win

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Scenes of joy and disappointment have been seen across the US after Joe Biden was projected to win the presidential election, ending a nail-biting wait for results that left the world in suspense.

Spontaneous celebrations erupted in major cities after media outlets announced Mr Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump on Saturday.

From New York to Los Angeles, news of the result was met with cheers, honking and dancing as supporters of Mr Biden flooded the streets.

Elsewhere, the mood was more sombre among Mr Trump’s supporters, with some refusing to accept Mr Biden’s projected victory.
For all Americans, the result was a moment of release after a bitterly contested election that took place in the shadow of a pandemic.

Masks were worn widely in Washington DC, where hundreds of people gathered near the White House to celebrate outside a security fence erected before election day.
Music blared, fireworks boomed, people embraced but Mr Trump, who was playing golf in Virginia when the result was declared, was far from the party, in spirit or person.

“I was on the bus and I jumped off the bus to come right down here to the White House,” Washington resident Donna Thomas told Reuters news agency. “It is something to celebrate. We have been waiting so long.”
Within hours of the result, Black Lives Matter Plaza, the scene of many recent racial injustice protests in the capital, was thronged with thousands of people.

“I’m here to celebrate,” Jack Nugent, a 24-year-old software engineer, told AFP news agency. “I’m really happy with the outcome. It’s been so many years waiting for this day to happen.”

Times Square in New York was equally packed, as the result breathed new life into the pandemic-stricken city.

“I feel like I’ve been holding my breath,” Justin Oakley, a 30-year-old web developer, told the New York Times. “We’ve been through so much, the city has been through so much this year, I’ve been to so many protests. But now it’s like, ah, finally, something to celebrate.”

Some Democratic voters toasted the victory, popping champagne bottles near Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park.

Those outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, were no less jubilant. The streets were a sea of signs promoting the ticket of Mr Biden and his vice-presidential running mate, Kamala Harris.

Locals expressed an outpouring of joy at Mr Biden, who lives in Wilmington, ascending to the highest office in the country.
“I’m happy, I wanted Trump out,” Kristina Moncada, 31, told AFP. “It’s awesome because [Joe Biden] knows the area. He’s just more relatable, he’s a genuine guy. He means what he says and he’ll keep his word.”

Triumphant, Mr Biden’s supporters raised their fists to the sky in sunny Philadelphia, a Pennsylvanian city that proved crucial to the Democrat’s victory.
Not all Americans were pleased with the numbers, however. Despite the projected result, some of Mr Trump’s supporters were adamant that the Republican president was still in the race for the White House.

Many repeated the president’s unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

Chants of “This is not over” and “We will be here forever” were heard on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.
Similar sentiments were expressed in Phoenix, Arizona, where some Trump supporters shouted “Trump won” and “We will win in court”, referring to the flurry of legal challenges the president has mounted against the results.

Some protesters blamed the media for declaring Mr Biden the winner. “The media is part of the coup,” one protester shouted.
One Trump supporter, Jodi Lavoie-Carnes from Dover, New Hampshire said she was appalled by the tone of the celebrations thrown to mark Mr Biden’s win. The 48-year-old said some Biden supporters had been waving inappropriate anti-Trump signs at a rally in her town.

“I’m like, are you serious?” she told the New York Times. “The language doesn’t need to be there. My children need to drive by that.”

 

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US election live: Latest results and reaction as Trump battles Biden for White House

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Election day is here. Donald Trump and Joe Biden need 270 electoral college votes to be the next US president.

Biden is leading in the polls but the country’s unique voting system means the election could be decided in a few key battleground states.

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Early voting fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic and a bitter campaign means turnout is on course to easily beat 2016.

Scroll past this results map for key updates.

Turnout in the United States could be record high

Many are wondering if the turnout will be higher in 2020 than in 2016. Some 102 million Americans voted early — a record total that represents 73% of the total turnout of the 2016 presidential election. There were some long lines on election day and millions of Americans also voted by mail amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains to be seen if turnout is higher than four years ago.[contfnewc]

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The first two states have been called in the US election.

These states were predicted to go to both candidates due to an established political trend either Republican or Democratic in those states. The calls are based on polling in those states, early voting statistics and an expectation of how the states will vote.

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Anthony Scaramucci: peaceful power transfer ‘is in Donald Trump’s best interests’

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Donald Trump will lose the US presidential election and realise it is in his best interests to calmly transfer power to Joe Biden, former White House staffer Anthony Scaramucci has predicted.

The former Trump aide, who controversially served 11 days as communications director before being fired, was previously a big supporter and friend of the president.

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Scaramucci has since joined the Lincoln Foundation, a group started by disenchanted Republicans hoping to prevent Trump’s re-election.

“He will lose the election, certainly Joe Biden will win, but it will really be because Mr Trump has lost this election,” the former aide told Euronews.

“It’ll be in the president’s best interests to calmly transition power to the vice president, so all of that blustering and over-compensating nonsense, and all of those veiled threats will go by the wayside.

“It’s in his best interests to make peace with the vice president because he has legal battles ahead, he has criminal investigations that he’s faced with, and he’s going to look to cut a deal to keep himself and his family out of jail.”

Scaramucci recounted how he had spoken a group at the latest World Economic Forum in Davos last January who was convinced that Mr Trump would win: “I said to those people that there’s something wrong with Donald Trump, that he’s obviously not a great manager and he’s trying to divide the United States.

“When you’re not a great manager, if you’re faced with a crisis you’re not going to be able to handle and/or manage the crisis, and unfortunately that’s what happened [with the coronavirus pandemic].”

He also accused Donald Trump of sowing division overseas: “The president is trying to weaken the western alliance. He’s denigrating democratic leaders of the west and praising despots, so hopefully Vice President Biden will win tonight and put an end to that nonsense as well.”

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