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Election 2020 live updates: Race narrows in Georgia, Pennsylvania; Biden clings to slim lead in Arizona, Nevada

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President Trump and Joe Biden
(Photo illustration / Los Angeles Times; photographs from Associated Press)

The fate of the presidency still hangs in the balance as President Trump and Joe Biden duel over a few remaining battleground states.

President Trump’s lead over Joe Biden in Georgia and Pennsylvania is narrowing, and Biden has won Michigan and Wisconsin, opening a path for the former vice president to get to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Democrats’ hopes of taking the Senate faded as GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins won reelection and Democratic challengers fell short in other key races. Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly won his Senate race in Arizona.

Our reporters are bringing dispatches from more than a dozen cities in battleground states. Follow our live coverage.

2020 presidential election: Live results | California election: Live results | Los Angeles election: Live results | Photos: Election too close to call

Biden makes big strides against Trump in Georgia

An election inspector looks at an absentee ballot in Atlanta on Wednesday.
An election inspector looks at an absentee ballot during counting in Atlanta on Wednesday.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

Joe Biden has significantly narrowed his gap with President Trump in the traditionally conservative state of Georgia, where the margin between them dropped to about .38 of a percentage point early Thursday.

As of about 6 a.m., Biden trailed Trump by fewer than 19,000 votes out of about 4.84 million counted. More ballots are still to be tabulated, many of them from Democratic-leaning areas around Atlanta.

If either of Biden’s currently slim leads in Arizona and Nevada holds, then a win in Georgia would clinch for Biden the 270 electoral college votes a candidate needs to capture the White House.

Victory for Biden in Georgia would also represent the first time a Democratic presidential nominee has taken the state in nearly 30 years, since Bill Clinton won in 1992.

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Protests erupt in Portland and Seattle over Trump campaign court challenges

Oregon State Police arrest a protester in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated Wednesday in Seattle and Portland, Ore., against President Trump’s court challenges to stop the vote count in battleground states.

The unrest in Portland prompted the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to declared a riot about 7 p.m. after protesters were seen smashing windows of businesses. Gov. Kate Brown activated the use of the state National Guard to help local law enforcement manage the unrest, according to the sheriff’s office.

Brown said previously she would keep state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers under a unified command into Friday in Portland to handle protests amid the uncertainty over the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

The Oregon National Guard had been on standby. Brown’s order places law enforcement agencies under the joint command of the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department, which allows those agencies to use tear gas if necessary to quell unrest. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, banned the use of tear gas by Portland police earlier this fall after concerns about an overly aggressive response to near-nightly protests.

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Biden’s lead shrinks as Arizona vote count proceeds

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies stand outside the County Recorder's Office as Trump supporters rally outside.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies stand outside the County Recorder’s Office as President Trump’s supporters rally outside Wednesday night.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Joe Biden continued to lose ground to President Trump in Arizona early Thursday, with an overnight update of vote counts in heavily populated Maricopa County shaving Biden’s lead statewide to 50.5% compared with Trump’s 48.1%.

Tensions are running high in Arizona as both Biden and Trump close in on the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency.

A crowd that fluctuated in size from a few dozen people to more than 100 demonstrated Wednesday evening at the state Capitol in Phoenix and at the Maricopa County elections center where the votes were being tabulated. They demanded that all the state’s votes be counted before a winner is declared, and many lashed out at Fox News and the Associated Press for calling the state for Biden on election night Tuesday despite hundreds of thousands of votes still uncounted.

Several demonstrators were armed, according to news accounts from the scene posted to social media. The crowd started to disperse by late evening.

Officials at the elections department tweeted reassurances to the public late Wednesday, saying that they were committed to tabulating all of the outstanding ballots and expressing gratitude to sheriff’s deputies for helping to protect the building as protesters gathered outside.

The tweet thanked the sheriff’s department “for doing their job, so we can do ours.”

The county’s Democratic recorder, Adrian Fontes, was the target of some of the Trump supporters’ chants Wednesday night because of his role in supervising the vote count. Stephen Richer, the Republican who’s behind in his race against Fontes, urged protesters to let the process unfold.

“Let them count. Please,” Richer tweeted as the crowd of demonstrators grew outside the recorder’s office.

Later, he tweeted that it was in everyone’s interest, including Trump’s, that the ballots “be counted accurately without distraction.”

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With passion and fervor, Chinese immigrant roots for Trump

The channel flipping, glances at social media and the onslaught of messages from the Chinese multimedia platform WeChat seemed endless for Arcadia resident Fenglan “Juli” Liu, who had intently been following the presidential and local elections since about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

There is no equivocation from the San Gabriel Valley-based immigrant lawyer: America is in peril if Joe Biden is elected president.

“Only Trump will make this country safer,” said Liu, who is leading a recall petition effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “The Democrats believe in open borders and letting anyone in unchecked. If Biden wins I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

It was with this fervor that Liu, who says she’s in her early 50s, stayed up until midnight watching cable news. When Trump won Florida, which pollsters felt was pivotal to his reelection campaign, she delighted in seeing the president overcome “the people who hate him.”

But she was let down on the local front when she channel-surfed to KTLA and saw that Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Arcadia) was reelected to his 49th District seat with 68% of the vote.

“Ed Chau always votes for taxes and never helps landlords or small-business owners,” she said.

Liu, who emigrated from the autonomous Chinese region of Ningxia 20 years ago, made sure family and friends were kept abreast of local issues. They reciprocated throughout the night with information on state propositions and measures.

Though she was temporarily down, Liu received a boost late in the evening when Ohio was called for Trump.

“He loves this country so much, much more than Biden,” she said.

While some saw Trump’s victory speech on Tuesday evening as premature or uncalled for, Liu backed the president and cheered on the declaration from her living room. She particularly agreed with his dire warning about finding 4 a.m. ballots.

Liu said she worked as a poll observer in Las Vegas from Oct. 24 until Saturday and saw irregularities. “There was illegal stuff going on,” she said. “I wasn’t allowed to see a lot because when I tried to observe, the Democrats kept saying ‘COVID-19, COVID-19,’ but it wasn’t right.”

On Wednesday morning, Liu was hopeful with Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia all within grasp for the president. She spent most of her morning working and took only occasional glances at her phone. As the morning transitioned into the afternoon, the mood grew more somber. CNN called Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden by 3 p.m. and Nevada was also tilting for the former vice president, who was on the cusp of victory. Other stations said Arizona would soon fall to Biden.

“It’s a very sad time,” Liu said at 3:15 p.m. “This can only happen because of cheating. The president said that would happen, and it’s happening in the greatest country in the world.”

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Police in riot gear chase protesters in Portland, Ore.

A man holding a water bottle raises his arms in front of a group of police wearing riot gear
A man puts his arms up in front of police officers during protests in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Police in riot gear chased protesters through downtown streets Wednesday night after small groups of demonstrators broke windows of a church, storefronts and a hotel.

Two separate rallies, one a racial justice protest and the other a “count every vote” demonstration, started peacefully and evolved into marches that converged briefly in a downtown park. During their march, a few hundred racial justice protesters chanted in opposition to newly reelected Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, whom they fault for tear-gassing them at past protests and failing to institute sweeping police reforms.

Leaders of both groups urged demonstrators to unite, but many of the racial justice protesters, who tend to favor “direct actions” confronting police, split off from the vote-counting crowd, whose members say that violence and property damage detract from the Black Lives Matter message.

Oregon State Police and Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies, called in by Gov. Kate Brown under an emergency order, declared the racial justice protest an unlawful assembly and then a riot.

They chased protesters around downtown as the “count every vote” rally continued peacefully in the park, where about 200 people applauded speakers calling for vote counting to continue in local and national elections.

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Hundreds gather outside Maricopa County Elections Department as count continues

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For one Garden Grove Republican, 2020 seemed like 2016 all over again

A long evening of watching and waiting was in store for Garden Grove resident Lan Quoc Nguyen.

The 56-year-old general practice lawyer is a seasoned veteran, having spent the last 18 years serving his community as a Garden Grove Unified School District board member. This election season, however, Nguyen was not on the ballot, so he passed election day campaigning for friends and watching a mix of cable and local television news.

“I didn’t sit and watch for too long because I was moving around and talking on the phone,” Nguyen said.

For months, some polls predicted a “blue wave” with former Vice President Joe Biden able to flip states such as Florida, Arizona and perhaps Texas. By 8 p.m. Tuesday, it became clear that there would be no Democratic landslide.

“I was very surprised for us,” said Nguyen, a Republican. “I immediately thought about 2016 and how everyone followed ‘the polls’ and they turned out not to be correct.”

Trump’s victory in Florida on Tuesday evening, followed by wins in Ohio and Texas, gave Nguyen the feeling of déjà vu. Unlike the president, though, he was not quick to claim victory. No, his focus was instead on local elections as the self-described moderate cheered on those whom he had campaigned for, including Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do and Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones.

“I had a whole slate of candidates to follow, so I was up … until 1 a.m.,” said Nguyen, who emigrated from Vietnam at age 15 in 1980. When Nguyen awoke at 8 a.m., the information and national momentum had clearly shifted. Voters in Arizona and Nevada had propelled Biden ahead of Trump in those states.

By 10 a.m., Nguyen also saw a shift in Michigan and Wisconsin. Though the election was perhaps closer than expected, Nguyen believed one factor was playing out.

“As everything started reversing in the morning, it seemed clear that science was winning,” said Nguyen, who would not disclose whom he had voted for.

As Wisconsin and Michigan were called for Biden on Wednesday afternoon, Nguyen slowed looking at his phone for updates.

“I’ll check out the results later tonight,” he said. “I have other work to do.”

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Biden-Trump election has been a roller-coaster ride for bettors

From behind his microphone in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Gill Alexander kept the discussion during “Prime Time Action,” his sports-betting show, focused on sports.

During commercial breaks, however, Alexander tracked the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and it was during one break, as polls closed on the East Coast, Trump’s vote in Florida grew and betting odds shifted in favor of the Republican incumbent with stunning speed, that Alexander asked his co-host whether what he was seeing in the betting market was real.

“There was this huge disconnect between what I like to call the pre-flop, general election betting odds versus the irrational live betting that was going on,” Alexander said. “I don’t think we’ll ever see anything quite like this again where the live-betting market was absolutely not a reflection of the truth.”

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Biden gains ground in Pennsylvania as Trump tries to stop the ballot count

PHILADELPHIA — President Trump sought Wednesday to block Pennsylvania from counting more than 1 million ballots cast by mail in Tuesday’s election as the tabulation narrowed his lead over Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Trump’s extraordinary attack on the voting system came in a broad legal assault on ballot counting across a handful of toss-up states that will decide the presidential election.

The Republican president was more than 600,000 votes ahead of Biden early Wednesday in Pennsylvania, but by the end of the day that margin had shrunk to just over 200,000 votes.

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Michigan secretary of state calls Trump lawsuit ‘frivolous.’ his supporters disruptive

DETROIT—Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Wednesday evening called President Trump’s lawsuit over the state’s ballot-counting procedures “frivolous” and dismissed his supporters who protested at a Detroit counting center as focused on causing disruption.

Trump’s campaign sued the state earlier in the day to try to halt absentee ballot counting because of an alleged lack of access for election observers. “I called it a frivolous lawsuit without merit because that’s what it is,” Benson told reporters in a virtual news conference.

“The litigation is ongoing. We’ll let the process play out and respect the process. What I can say with confidence and have already emphasized is the absentee ballot tabulation process was efficient, transparent, secure, and methodical workers worked to dot every I, cross every T and take great pride in the important work they knew they were doing.”

Benson dismissed the heated protests by a largely pro-Trump crowd at a major counting center for absentee ballots in Detroit, saying the process was transparent for observers of both parties throughout the tallying.

“As for the folks who showed up in the late hours outside to cause a lot of distraction and make noise, if they thought they were going to intimidate or stop anyone from doing their job inside the center, then they don’t know Detroit,” she said

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Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters wins reelection

Democratic Michigan Sen. Gary Peters won reelection Wednesday, defeating Republican challenger John James in a tight race.

The 61-year-old Peters continued Democrats’ dominance of Senate elections in the battleground presidential state. Republicans have won just once there since the 1970s, despite having spent heavily to try to unseat Peters in one of their few pickup opportunities.

Peters is a former congressman, state lawmaker, lottery commissioner and investment advisor who served in the Navy Reserve. He ran by emphasizing his bipartisan work, his ranking as one of the most effective senators and James’ support for President Trump.

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L.A. County voters approve Measure J, providing new funding for social services

Los Angeles County voters have approved Measure J, which will divert more county money to social services and jail diversion programs.

The Yes on J campaign declared victory Tuesday evening, celebrating as results showed almost 60% of voters were in favor of the measure.

As of early Wednesday morning, 57% of voters had cast ballots in favor of the proposal, according to the results.

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Holly Mitchell wins seat on L.A. County Board of Supervisors

Holly Mitchell, right, and campaign manager Lenee Richards, left, watch election updates.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell, right, and campaign manager Lenee Richards watch election updates in her race against Herb Wesson on Tuesday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

State Sen. Holly Mitchell has won the L.A. County Board of Supervisors 2nd District seat, which spans southwest from Culver City to Carson.

Mitchell will not only assume a four-year term on the board, which acts much like a five-headed executive with broad control to create social programs, build medical clinics and appropriate money, but is generally expected to stay in the position for the next 12 years, as supervisors rarely lose a race once elected.

In recent months, following a summer of protests and a national reckoning on racism, the candidates have focused far more resources on highlighting their records on criminal justice reform and building skepticism among voters about which candidate is being most forthright.

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas declares victory in 10th City Council District

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas prior to casting his vote with wife, Avis Ridley-Thomas.
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks to reporters before casting his vote with wife, Avis Ridley-Thomas, at Hot and Cool Cafe in Leimert Park on election day.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas declared victory over attorney Grace Yoo in his race to represent a Koreatown-to-Crenshaw district on the Los Angeles City Council, setting the stage for a return to City Hall after an 18-year absence.

While returns were still being tabulated, Ridley-Thomas held a commanding lead over his opponent Wednesday, with 61.4% of the vote compared to Yoo’s 38.6%.

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Trump campaign sues in a third state, Georgia

President Trump’s campaign and the Georgia Republican Party have filed a lawsuit against the Chatham County Board of Elections, asking for a judge to require that county’s elections board “collect, secure, and safely store all absentee ballots” it received after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“The possible counting of absentee ballots arriving after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day frustrates that organizational mission and dilutes lawful vote,” the petition said.

“Failing to ensure that absentee ballots received after the deadline are stored in a manner to ensure that such ballots are not inadvertently or intentionally counted, as required under Georgia law, harms the interests of the Trump Campaign and President Trump because it could lead to the dilution of legal votes cast in support of President Trump.”

Trump’s campaign also filed lawsuits Wednesday in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

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County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas declares victory in L.A.’s 10th District council seat

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas declared victory over attorney Grace Yoo in L.A.'s District 10 council seat.

Ridley-Thomas will replace Councilman Herb Wesson, who has represented the Koreatown-to-South Los Angeles district for the past 15 years.

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Armed anti-Trump protesters gather at Houston City Hall: ‘We don’t want Trump to steal the election’

Armed anti-Trump protesters outside Houston City Hall
Armed anti-Trump protesters outside Houston City Hall late Wednesday.
(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

HOUSTON — About a dozen anti-Trump protesters gathered outside Houston City Hall to chant and march late Wednesday, some with AR-15 rifles slung across their chests.

A few Houston police officers stationed across the street looked on as protesters wearing “Houston United Front Against Fascism” T-shirts shouted, “When brown lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!”

David Michael Smith
David Michael Smith.
(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

Among the group was David Michael Smith, a former professor at a Galveston community college, with an AR-15 over his chest and a .40-caliber handgun in a hip holster. “We don’t want Trump to steal the election,” Smith said. “We don’t want a coup.”

Smith voted for the Green Party candidate for president, and said his group were “leftists and political independents” not affiliated with Democrats, who had organized a protest of their own at the same time elsewhere in downtown Houston.

“We just think it’s important that whoever wins be able to enter the White House,” he said. “The masses of people can stop a coup.”

Smith said he came to the protest armed because “there are fascists in Houston like there are in other parts of the country; some are armed.”

He dismissed allegations that anti-fascists like him had stirred violence, noting Wednesday’s protest was peaceful and contending that they were exercising their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.

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‘Don’t fall for it!’: Federal agency charged with cybersecurity warns of fake media accounts calling election results

WASHINGTON — As much of the country “doomscrolled” social media feeds and awaited last vote counts with the election stretching into Wednesday night, the director of the federal agency charged with cybersecurity warned that fake media accounts posing as the Associated Press were calling states: “Don’t fall for it!”

Chris Krebs, the first director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, tweeted “RUMOR CONTROL” from his own (verified) Twitter account with red siren emojis, pointing to an apparently coordinated disinformation campaign by fake Associated Press accounts that have falsely declared favorable results in states for former Vice President Joe Biden.

News outlets across the country, including The Times, rely on the AP’s long-running and widely trusted election tracking operation.

Julie Pace, Washington bureau chief for the AP, tweeted, “Heads up, there are some fake AP Twitter accounts floating around. The place to follow our race calls is at @AP_Politics.”

Krebs, the CISA director, urged users to look for the blue check verifying legitimate accounts. “Malicious actors can use fake personas and impersonate real accounts,” he posted.

Election security experts and officials have said election day itself went better than expected, but given reports of voter intimidation, attempted foreign interference and a sharply divided electorate, they have also warned that the more drawn-out the count, the greater the risk of dangerous disinformation spreading.

Meanwhile, with Donald Trump trailing Biden, the Democratic nominee, the president has escalated his own false claims of both fraud and victory, adding fuel.

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Setting a new record? More women of color are on par to get elected to Congress. We’re tracking it

LOS ANGELES — It was a record election for women of color: 126 ran for Congress. So far, 48 won their seats; a record 48 already sit in the House and Senate.

That number could grow because 13 races are still undecided. One of them is in California, where Young Kim is seeking to represent the 39th Congressional District. We’ve been tracking the records of these women and the history that they’re making. Here’s a glimpse:

  • New Mexico elected its first all-female of color U.S. House delegation. Republican Yvette Herrell won in the 2nd Congressional District; Democrat Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women in Congress, was reelected in the 1st District; and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez was elected to the 3rd District.
  • Democrat Cori Bush won Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, making her the first Black congresswoman in the state’s history.
  • Democrat Marilyn Strickland was elected to Washington’s 10th Congressional District. She’s the first Black person to represent Washington state at the federal level and the first Korean American ever elected to Congress.

Follow us as we continue to track the progress of the diversity of Congress here.

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Trump’s margin narrows in Georgia as final votes are tallied in Democratic-leaning areas

A protester displays a sign in front of the CNN center Wednesday in Atlanta.
A protester displays a sign in front of the CNN center Wednesday in Atlanta.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

The margin between President Trump and Joe Biden in Georgia continued to narrow Wednesday as poll workers in mostly Democratic-leaning counties continued tallying absentee ballots.

With more than 4.8 million votes counted, Trump is ahead by 55,575 votes — just 1.16 percentage points.

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Pelosi praises Biden’s ‘historic’ election in letter to House Democrats, refers to working with a ‘Democratic White House’

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) acknowledged to fellow Democrats on Wednesday that the election was “challenging” but said the party’s “discipline in building a massive battlefield” helped preserve the Democratic majority.

“We must remain patient as votes are tallied and races are called, and we must remain absolutely committed to ensuring that every American voter has a say in their democracy,” she wrote in a letter to House Democrats.

She praised what she called Joe Biden’s “historic” election, even though the presidential race had not yet been called.

“Our Democratic House Majority, working in partnership with the Democratic White House, will now have the opportunity to deliver extraordinary progress. Together, we will continue to deliver on our successful For The People agenda: lower health care costs, bigger paychecks by building green infrastructure and cleaner government.”

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Federal judge slams U.S. Postal Service and orders search for mail ballots in Texas facilities

A federal judge harshly criticized the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday, saying the agency had failed to comply with his order to sweep postal facilities for leftover mail-in ballots in battleground states where election officials continue to count votes.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., also ordered postal officials to instruct mail processing facilities in Texas to conduct two searches for mail ballots Wednesday afternoon and deliver any votes to local elections offices by 5 p.m.

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Legal experts cast doubt on Trump’s bid to involve Supreme Court in election results

Trump’s lawyers will try to find a legal basis for setting aside votes, but most experts think their prospects are dim, even with the Supreme Court dominated by conservatives.

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Trump campaign seeks order to block Pennsylvania from counting more than 1 million ballots

PHILADELPHIA — President Trump’s reelection campaign vowed to seek a court order to block Pennsylvania election officials from counting more than 1 million ballots as Trump falsely claimed that he had already won the state.

The extraordinary attack on the power of U.S. citizens to elect the leader of their government was part of Trump’s broader legal assault on ballot counting across battleground states that will decide Tuesday’s presidential election.

The Republican president’s latest attack on America’s voting system drew a scathing response from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

“These attempts to subvert the democratic process are disgraceful,” said Wolf, a Democrat. He said Pennsylvania would “fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters and continue to administer a free and fair election. Our election officials at the state and local level should be free to do their jobs without intimidation or attacks.”

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was expected to announce the campaign’s Pennsylvania lawsuits outside the Philadelphia convention center where election officials were still counting — and verifying the eligibility of — more than 350,000 ballots submitted by mail.

Eric and Lara Trump, the president’s son and daughter-in-law, were also set to attend, but dozens of shouting anti-Trump protesters, who were cleared from the scene by police officers, forced them to move their event to an airport, where Giuliani provided no evidence of wrongdoing in the vote tabulation.

Giuliani branded the city’s ballot counting, which is overseen by a bipartisan commission, “a concerted effort of the crooks who run the Democratic Party.”

Giuliani repeated Trump’s false claim of a Pennsylvania victory. The former New York City mayor gave no indication of how he would know that at a time when election officials in the state’s 67 counties were still reporting 1,066,963 ballots uncounted.

The Trump campaign will file at least three lawsuits to challenge the ballot counting, he said. “We’re not going to let them get away with it,” Giuliani said. “They’re not going to steal this election.”

Pam Bondi, a Trump campaign senior advisor, denounced Seth Bluestein, a Republican deputy election commissioner, for enforcing rules that require poll watchers for Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, to remain behind barricades during the ballot counting.

“He is wearing a badge the size of a baseball,” said Bondi, a former Florida attorney general. “And as far as I know, he’s not a sworn law enforcement officer, so it looks like intimidation to me.”

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Mississippi’s new flag — replacing one with Confederate emblem — is now flying

JACKSON, Miss. — A new Mississippi flag without Confederate images was flying in parts of the state on Wednesday, one day after a majority of voters approved the design that has a magnolia encircled by stars and the phrase “In God We Trust.”

Officials hoisted the flag outside Hattiesburg City Hall and on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

“Mississippi voters sent a message to the world that we are moving forward together,” former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson said in a statement.

The new Mississippi flag features a magnolia flower
Voters chose a new flag for the state of Mississippi.
(Associated Press)

Anderson led a nine-member commission that recommended the new flag design. Uncertified election results showed the new flag received more than 70% support. “I have a renewed sense of hope for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I know this new symbol creates better prospects for the entire state of Mississippi,” Anderson said.

Mississippi legislators in late June retired a 126-year-old state flag that was the last in the U.S. to include the Confederate battle emblem. The vote occurred as protests over racial injustice were taking place across the nation and Confederate monuments were being toppled or taken down by authorities.

The Southeastern Conference and the state Baptist convention were among groups that urged legislators to shelve the flag that many viewed as a constant visual reminder of Mississippi’s racist history.

The governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker appointed flag commissioners, and the public submitted more than 3,000 designs, including one featuring a giant mosquito. Legislators specified that the new flag could not include the rebel symbol and must include, “In God We Trust.”

They also said a single flag would go on the ballot for a yes-or-no vote. The new flag pays tribute to the Native Americans with a gold star made of five diamond shapes. The diamond motif is important to the Choctaw culture.

As a formality, legislators must put the new flag design into law. That action is not up for debate because the law eliminating the old flag requires legislators to adopt the new one if voters accept it.

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With 5 races still to call, it’s looking like GOP will hold the Senate

WASHINGTON — It could be a while until we know who controls the Senate, but it’s looking like Republicans may narrowly hold it.

Several Republican incumbents were able to fend off well-funded challengers, dimming Democrats’ hope of regaining control of the chamber.

At midday Wednesday, the expected Senate results stand at 48 Republicans and 47 Democrats. Five races have not been called, but most of them lean toward Republicans.

GOP senators are ahead in North Carolina and Alaska. Democrat Sen. Gary Peters has a narrow lead in the race to keep his Michigan seat.

One of two Senate races in Georgia is already heading to a runoff on Jan. 5. In the other, Republican Sen. David Perdue is slightly ahead of Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. If Perdue’s share of the vote falls below 50%, that race too would go to a Jan. 5 runoff.

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A house divided: Election deepens the partisan rift

Americans turned out to vote in this year’s election as never before, and the result seemed only to deepen the trench dividing the two warring parties.

From Atlanta to Milwaukee to Phoenix, Joe Biden gained ground in suburban areas, widening his party’s advantage among college-educated voters who have turned away from President Trump. Biden’s margins were several points smaller than most preelection polls had predicted, but as the vote count continued Wednesday, he appeared to be winning most of the states that the pollsters had projected.

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Voters strip ‘Plantations’ from Rhode Island’s formal name

Rhode Island will now be officially known as ... Rhode Island.

The smallest state in the nation will no longer have the distinction of also having the longest official name after voters approved a statewide referendum to strip the words “and Providence Plantations” from Rhode Island’s formal name — the culmination of a long-running debate revived amid the nation’s reckoning with racial injustice.

Officially, Rhode Island was incorporated as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations when it declared statehood in 1790.

Although the word “Plantations” in Rhode Island’s name does not specifically refer to a place where slaves labored, the measure’s backers argued that it still offends, especially since Rhode Island’s ties to the slave trade are undeniably deep.

Merchants from the state played a key role in the transatlantic slave trade, launching more than 1,000 voyages to buy and transport enslaved people from Africa to the Americas.

A similar ballot question was defeated a decade ago, but the campaign was resurrected this year.

Democratic state Sen. Harold Metts, a Black lawmaker of Cape Verdean descent who led the push to purge the state’s name of “Plantations,” called it “a hurtful term to so many of us.”

State officials said Wednesday they’ll begin assessing all state property where the offending phrase is inscribed, including the State House’s grand marble facade, in preparations for removal.

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Some historic moments you may have missed on election night

Marjorie Taylor Greene has a photo taken with a supporter in Rome, Ga.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, with supporters in August in Rome, Ga., is the first openly declared QAnon supporter to be elected to Congress.
(Mike Stewart / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — Let’s be real. Most folks were watching to see whether Biden or Trump won last night, not what happened in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But even in a chamber where most people thought they knew the outcome (Democrats kept the majority), there were some historic firsts that you might’ve missed:

1. New Mexico became the first state to elect all women of color to its House delegation. They are Rep. Deb Haaland, who was one of the first Native American women elected to Congress in 2018, Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican Yvette Herrell.

2. New York Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones became the first openly gay Black members of Congress.

3. Georgia sent the first only declared supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory to Congress when it picked Marjorie Taylor Greene to represent the 14th District.

4. North Carolina elected the youngest member of Congress in decades. Republican Madison Cawthorn, 25, will be — wait for it — the first person born in the 1990s to serve in Congress.

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In Detroit, election challengers — mostly Trump supporters — swarm ballot counting site

An election worker speaks to challengers outside a Detroit ballot counting room.
An election worker speaks to a crowd of challengers in Detroit outside a room where mail-in ballots are being counted.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

DETROIT — Hundreds of election challengers — largely supporters of President Trump — swarmed one of Detroit’s main absentee ballot counting sites and were denied entry because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Stop the count! Stop the count!” a group chanted outside of the counting room, which is located in the basement of a convention center.

Hundreds of additional pro-Trump challengers gathered outside doors of the convention center, not allowed inside by security guards and police officers.

A woman gives a double thumbs down at a ballot-counting center in Detroit.
A woman who was not allowed inside the ballot counting room shows her displeasure.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

More than 130 challengers of each party are allowed into the ballot counting room, but the slots had already been filled and the room was over capacity, according to attorney David Porada, who was volunteering for the GOP and observing the scene.

Nevertheless, many in the crowd made the unsubstantiated claim that elections officials were not allowing them to watch the count so they could rig the election in favor of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump’s campaign is suing in state court to try to stop ballot counting, claiming a lack of access for election observers.

Madeleine Hubbard, who said she works in the Trump administration, drove to up Michigan from Washington, D.C., with friends on Sunday to try to observe.

“It is such a vital state, and it’s so close,” said the 22-year-old. Trump challengers far outnumbered Biden challengers.

Sylvia Orduno, 54, was among the liberal challengers who showed up at the convention center but could not get inside. Orduno, a community organizer, said she was worried that ballot counters would be intimidated.

“It’s pretty concerning that a lot of folks are here and pretty aggressive.”

Trump’s campaign announced earlier in the day that it would seek a recount in Wisconsin. It’s unclear whether it would seek such an effort in Michigan. An automatic recount would occur here if Trump and Biden were within 2,000 votes of each other. If the margin is wider, a candidate can still petition for a recount, but the expense of the recount — which the requesting candidate’s campaign must fund — grows the wider the gap is.

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International election monitors say Trump and his allies have ‘harmed the public trust’

Urszula Gacek
Following election day, Urszula Gacek of Poland cited “deliberate efforts by the incumbent president to weaken” the electoral system.
(Tracy Wilkinson / Los Angeles Times)

WASHINGTON — International monitors of the U.S. election on Wednesday sharply criticized President Trump’s efforts to undermine the credibility of the vote and to deprive citizens of their right to cast a ballot.

In an unusually pointed report, the monitors — 102 Europeans deployed in 30 states — said the elections Tuesday took place largely successfully. But, they said, comments from Trump and his allies in both the run-up to the vote and as recently as election night were inappropriate and damaging.

Trump “harmed the public trust,” said Michael Georg Link, a German politician and one of the leaders of the monitoring mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been observing U.S. elections since 2002.

Another of the team’s leaders, Urszula Gacek of Poland, also cited “deliberate efforts by the incumbent president to weaken” the electoral system.

“Nobody could have foreseen this many obstacles,” she said of the U.S. election while urging more American states to allow international observers into their voting stations. Many states do not.

“We are here for the American voter,” she said a day earlier at the Anacostia High School voting station in Washington, D.C., where she was observing the vote. “A lot of the confidence in the system has been challenged.”

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Biden says his win is inevitable, promises to unite the country

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden stopped short of declaring victory in the presidential race in brief remarks Wednesday afternoon, but he made the case that his win would be inevitable.

“It’s clear we’re winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes,” the former vice president said in a speech in the Chase Center in Wilmington. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, joined him onstage.

Biden pointed to vote leads in Wisconsin and Michigan, and said he felt “very good” about Pennsylvania, owing to the large amount of outstanding mail-in ballots where Biden has vastly outperformed President Trump.

After wins in Arizona and the 2nd Congressional District in Nebraska, he also emphasized his popular vote win.

“Sen. Harris and I are on track to win more votes than any ticket in this country that ever won the presidency and vice presidency: over 70 million votes,” he said.

Once he laid out his confident prediction, he turned to what would come next: knitting together the country after a hotly contested vote count.

To do so, he pledged to “put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to one another” once the election is finalized.

In the face of mounting legal challenges from Trump, Biden took pains not to sound conciliatory.

“We the people will not be silenced. We the people will not be bullied. We the people will not surrender,” Biden said.

But he finished on a familiar campaign theme of unity: “There will be no blue states or red states when we win. Just the United States of America.”

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Biden wins Michigan, CNN and NBC News project

Joe Biden has won Michigan, reclaiming for Democrats another state that barely slipped away four years ago, CNN and NBC News project.

The win brings Biden just one state away from clinching victory. If Biden holds on to his lead in Nevada, which is expected to finish its vote count Thursday, he will lock in the nomination. Michigan has 16 of the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House.

Trump’s 2016 Michigan win — by fewer than 11,000 votes, or a margin of 0.7% — was a major upset that shattered a key part of the decades-long Democratic “blue wall” of Midwestern states. He was the first Republican to carry Michigan since 1988. Trump also won neighboring Wisconsin in the last election, another piece of the blue wall. Biden has now flipped both states back to the Democrats and has the opportunity to take back a third, Pennsylvania, where no winner has been declared.

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Pro-Trump group says ballots were tossed because of Sharpies; Arizona county official says ‘no’

PHOENIX — The pro-Trump group Turning Point Action says it’s planning a “Protect the Vote Rally” at the election center in Phoenix, Arizona’s state capital, on Friday amid unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud circulating on Twitter that some ballots in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, and other areas were invalidated because the voters were given Sharpie pens to fill them out, making the ink bleed through the paper.

“My precinct only had Sharpies,” tweeted Chris Buskirk, a conservative podcast host and writer who lives in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Megan Gilbertson, a spokeswoman with the Maricopa County Elections Department, disputed claims that ballots were being invalidated due to the type of pen used.

She said the fast-drying ink in Sharpies, which were introduced in an overhaul of the vote tabulation equipment in 2019, made tabulation machines more reliable than a previous system that relied on the use of ballpoint pens, which sometimes left smudges.

“What I can tell you is that Sharpies do not create a problem with the ballots,” Gilbertson said, adding that the machines that were in use on election day at the county’s 175 voting centers were pre-tested and certified by federal elections officials. “There would be no impact on the tabulation.”

Under the new system, voters loading their ballots directly into a tabulation machine would be alerted by the machine right away if there was a problem, she said. They could then check for errors before reloading, Gilbertson said.

Republicans weren’t ready to give up on the prospect of President Trump winning Arizona’s 11 electoral college votes as thousands of outstanding votes were tabulated Wednesday, even though the Associated Press and Fox News had projected that Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, would win the crucial battleground state, flipping it from red to blue.

“Arizonans turned out in historic numbers for this election, and we owe it to them to count their votes,” Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, tweeted at midday Wednesday.

“The results have shifted greatly hour by hour, and from last night until today,” Ducey wrote. “It’s important that we be patient before declaring any races up or down the ballot.”

The Associated Press called Arizona for Biden in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and if that lead holds, the Democrats will have flipped the state blue in a presidential race for the first time in decades.

Biden was ahead 51% to President Trump’s 47.6% as of Wednesday morning with 84% of the state’s votes counted, the AP reported.

A move by Fox News on Tuesday night to declare Biden the winner drew a swift rebuke from the Trump campaign, with the president saying at his early morning speech at the White House that the call was premature.

Biden appeared to be leading in the state most of the night, bolstered by record early voting and heavy turnout on election day in and around Arizona’s largest city, Phoenix.

Democrats in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous region, which includes Phoenix,, were reveling in the role they played in potentially shifting the balance of power in Washington.

“Good morning everyone — we did this,” county Democratic Party Chair Steven Slugocki tweeted Wednesday.

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With votes remaining to be counted in key states, Trump campaign says he will declare victory soon in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign manager said he was “declaring victory” in Pennsylvania Wednesday afternoon, shortly after announcing a lawsuit aimed at stopping the counting of mail ballots in the potentially pivotal state.

“We are declaring a victory in Pennsylvania,” Bill Stepien, the campaign manager, said on a conference call with reporters. “This is not based on gut or feel. This is based on math. We have a high degree of certainty the margin won’t be close.”

Although he conceded that former Vice President Joe Biden would win a higher percentage of the remaining ballots than Trump, Stepien asserted that the margin would not be sufficient to overcome the president’s current lead of 379,700 votes.

Roughly 1.1 million votes have yet to be counted in Pennsylvania, the biggest chunk of them from Democrat-heavy Philadelphia. Stepien’s specious declaration of victory sparked a number of jubilant tweets from Trump aides and administration staffers, reveling in the news as if it were real.

He and senior advisor Jason Miller, who also addressed reporters, did not take questions after they spoke. They predicted that Trump would also pull out a win in Arizona and be in a position to be declared the winner by the end of the week.

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It’ll be weeks before we know complete results in L.A. races, officials say

Los Angeles County voting officials said they planned to provide an update on local results late Tuesday afternoon but cautioned that it would likely be weeks before complete results were known in local races.

About 3.2 million votes have been counted so far, which is about 55% of all registered voters. But many mail-in ballots are still en route or being processed, clouding the results in some key local races.

A sizable chunk of the eventual vote is still unknown, as state law allows voters to drop ballots into the mail until election day and county officials scramble to keep tabs.

“There are outstanding ballots left to be counted,” said Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for Dean Logan, the registrar-recorder/county clerk.

As many as 1.1 million mail ballots have yet to be processed, for example, according to Political Data Inc., a well-known firm that collects information on voting at various levels across the state.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this election is the first in which Los Angeles County sent ballots to all registered voters. About 74% of the vote so far came from those ballots, with the rest coming from voting centers in the last two weeks.

As expected, the remaining count leaves uncertain the fate of several high-profile local races, including those for Los Angeles City Council and education districts.

Sanchez said his office would likely provide a snapshot of precinct-level voting totals sometime Wednesday, offering a glimpse at the state of those contests in more detail.

He also said the office planned to continue its practice of providing regular countywide updates on the vote count in the coming weeks, but the final results of the election — and specific district races — won’t be certified until the end of the month.

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Arellano: Lots of Latinos voted for Trump. That should not be a surprise

No matter who ends up winning the presidential election, one thing is already clear:

It’s all the fault of Latino voters.

We were supposed to be the phalanx in the war against Donald J. Trump. An immovable mass of multihued tribes hurtling like an unstoppable force to smash white supremacy in the name of democracy.

Instead, too many of us broke ranks. Too many vendidos. Sellouts.

That’s the narrative pushed today, delivered in far more milquetoast and passive-aggressive terms, of course, by liberal pundits, Democratic operatives and leftists aghast that Latinos didn’t unanimously go for Joe Biden — never mind that he will end up winning the Latino vote in every state.

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Biden to speak as election is still too close to call

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Trump campaign steps up legal fight in Pennsylvania after filing suit in Michigan

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign is joining litigation to prevent Pennsylvania from counting mailed ballots received after election day, one of three legal efforts underway in the battleground state.

“With these key actions, President Trump is telling all Americans he will do whatever it takes to ensure the integrity of this election for the good of the nation,” said Justin Clark, the deputy campaign manager.

The campaign accused local officials of preventing Republicans from observing the processing of ballots, sometimes forcing them to stand so far away there’s “no meaningful way whatsoever for our observers to do their jobs.”

The campaign said it wants to temporarily stop the state from processing ballots — ballots that could give Joe Biden the lead in Pennsylvania.

Trump’s team also accused the state of changing the rules for voters to provide missing proof of identification for their ballots, forcing a longer wait to learn results.

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Still at stake: GOP looking to claim these close congressional races in California

WASHINGTON — Though more than a dozen of California’s 53 congressional districts have still not been called by the Associated Press, the political parties are paying particular attention to four districts Democrats won in 2018.

As few as a thousand votes currently separate candidates in the Orange County and Central Valley districts. Republicans say they are well positioned to reclaim some of the seven seats they lost in 2018.

In Orange County, Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda narrowly trails Republican challenger Michelle Steel in the 48th District race, which is too close to call; and former Assemblywoman Young Kim, a Republican, leads Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros in a rematch in the 39th District. Republican officials have called Steel and Kim two of their best prospects this year.

In the Central Valley, Democratic Rep. T.J. Cox is trailing former Republican Rep. David Valadao, whom he unseated in 2018. Also undecided Wednesday are the results of the California 25th District race between Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, who won the seat in a special election in May, and Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith.

Smith narrowly leads at the moment in the district, which includes Porter Ranch, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster.

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Nevada’s 6 electoral votes could prove crucial in the final count

Nevada’s six electoral votes could prove crucial in the cliff-hanging presidential contest, possibly pushing Joe Biden over the top and making him the nation’s 46th president.

With the Democratic winning Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday, a victory in Nevada would give the former vice president 270 electoral votes, the bare minimum to claim the White House.

Biden strategists are confident the state will tip their way, even though Biden leads by fewer than 8,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast. That’s because of the tens of thousands of votes to be counted, three-quarters come from the Democratic stronghold of Clark County, home to Las Vegas.

However, any celebration would have to wait at least until Thursday, when the next set of updated numbers are due to be released.

Nevada, which was a longtime GOP stronghold, has been trending Democratic in recent years. The last Republican to win was President George W. Bush in 2004.

But strategists on both sides said the state is more competitive than the last several contests would suggest. Trump narrowly lost four years ago, and Democrats suspended their door-to-door canvassing for several months this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans never let up on their ground-level organizing and Trump ran up landslide margins in the state’s vast rural counties.

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Mission accomplished: Former astronaut, Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, lands among Democratic winners in historic Arizona flip

Mark Kelly speaks at a Tucson drive-in campaign rally on Oct. 28.
Democrat Mark Kelly, at an Oct. 28 rally in Tucson, won his race against Republican Sen. Martha McSally.
(Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star)

PHOENIX — Democrat Mark Kelly won his crucial U.S. Senate race against Trump acolyte Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona, the Associated Press projected.

Kelly’s win added to a historic night for his party in the formerly red state turned battleground after the AP also projected that former Vice President Joe Biden would win its 11 electoral votes in the presidential contest.

“Gabby Giffords and I want to thank all of you for your hard work and support over the last 630 days,” he tweeted after the win. “This mission wouldn’t have been possible without you.”

A former astronaut, Kelly became a prominent gun-control advocate in 2011 after his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, who was then an Arizona congresswoman, suffered severe brain damage from gunshot wounds in an assassination attempt that left six people dead.

He ran as an independent-minded Democrat to broaden his appeal in a state that’s chosen a Republican in every presidential election since 1996.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to fill the seat left by the late Sen. John McCain in 2018.

This is the second time that Arizona voters have rejected the Republican. McSally lost her race against Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for the state’s other Senate seat earlier in 2018. She becomes the first Republican in two consecutive election cycles to lose both Senate seats in modern Arizona history, the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix reported Wednesday.

The race between Kelly and McSally was one of the most expensive and closely watched in the country.

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Federal judge slams USPS for failing to complete sweep of missing mail-in ballots on time

A federal judge harshly criticized the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday, saying the agency had failed to comply with his order to sweep postal facilities for leftover mail-in ballots in battleground states where election officials continued to count votes.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., said he would consider ordering more inspections. On Tuesday, he ordered the Postal Service’s law enforcement arm to conduct a series of sweeps for mail-in ballots in a dozen postal facilities, including in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Arizona and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Postal Service did not conduct those sweeps by Sullivan’s 3 p.m. deadline. The agency said in court filings Wednesday that they did search for ballots in all the ordered locations later in the day but that the deadline was not “operationally possible.” The sweep turned up 13 delayed mail-in ballots: three in a Johnstown, Pa., mail facility and 10 in Lancaster, Pa. All were referred to Postal Service management for expedited delivery, the agency said.

“I’m not pleased about this 11th-hour development last night,” Sullivan said in a hearing on Wednesday. “Someone might have a price to pay for that.”

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Prop. 25, which would have abolished California’s cash bail system, is rejected by voters

SACRAMENTO — A ballot measure that would have abolished California’s cash bail system was rejected by the state’s voters in Tuesday’s election.

Proposition 25 would have replaced the use of money bail as a condition for getting out of jail while awaiting trial with a system allowing release by judges based on a determination of public safety or a defendant’s flight risk.

Community groups against Proposition 25 said in a statement Wednesday that voters “took heed of our alarms” about eliminating cash bail.

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Biden edges out Trump in Wisconsin by narrow margin – 21,000 ballots

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden won Wisconsin on Wednesday morning, retaking for Democrats another critical battleground state that helped propel President Trump into the White House in 2016.

Biden narrowly edged out the president in Wisconsin, winning its 10 electoral votes by a margin of less than 21,000 ballots. Such close contests are common in Wisconsin. Trump’s margin of victory there four years ago was roughly the same size.

The Trump campaign said it would be seeking a recount of the Wisconsin vote. The loss of Wisconsin is a major setback for Trump, marking the second state Biden has flipped back to Democrats so far this race, and further narrowing Trump’s path to victory after he also lost Arizona.

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Trump campaign files suit, asking Michigan officials to stop counting ballots

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign opened another legal front in Michigan on Wednesday, filing a lawsuit asking the state to stop counting its ballots.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, said the president’s team “has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law.” His statement did not specify any barriers to access.

“We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access,” Stepien added.

The president is expected to rely on more lawsuits in hopes of tipping the hotly contested election in his favor.

The Nevada Supreme Court already rejected an emergency motion by the Trump campaign on Tuesday that challenged how the state was processing mail ballots in Clark County.

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Trump campaign has not offered evidence of ‘irregularities’ in call for Wisconsin recount

MILWAUKEE — President Trump’s campaign has not offered evidence of irregularities it cited in announcing Wednesday that it would request a recount in Wisconsin, a race that Biden leads by only about 20,000 votes, with 3.2 million ballots cast.

“Wisconsin has been a razor-thin race as we always knew that it would be,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien in a statement.

Stepien said “reports of irregularities” raised concerns about the results, but he did not specify any issues. “The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so,” he said in the statement.

Wisconsin law allows recounts in elections in which the competitors are separated by less than one percentage point. Biden’s 20,697-vote margin put him a little more than half a percentage point ahead of Trump.

In the last three presidential elections, Wisconsin has gone to the winning candidate. The state and its 10 electoral votes appear crucial again.

Trump beat Hillary Clinton by fewer than 23,000 votes in the 2016 election, breaking the Democrats’ purported “blue wall” in the Midwest on his way to the presidency. Trump scored 47.22% of the tally and Clinton, 46.45%.

In 2004, when President George W. Bush was running for reelection, challenger John F. Kerry bested him by only about 11,400 votes in Wisconsin, but Bush went on to win a second term anyway. Four years before that, Bush narrowly lost to Vice President Al Gore as well, by a mere 5,700 votes, but became president because of a Supreme Court ruling.

In this century, only the 2008 and 2012 presidential races in Wisconsin were decisively won, both times by Barack Obama, first against John McCain and then against Mitt Romney.

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Twitter flags Trump election tweets as misleading

Twitter’s content moderation polices were put to the test on election night and again Wednesday morning by tweets from President Trump, leading the social media company to append a warning to his posts that they “might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”

The first challenge came Tuesday night, when Trump took to Twitter to share his opinion that “they” are “trying to STEAL the election.” Within 15 minutes of the post going up at 9:49 Pacific time, the president’s tweet had been flagged with a noticeable disclaimer, including a link to detailed company policy for flagging and slowing the spread of misinformation.

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GOP’s Susan Collins keeps her Senate seat in Maine

Sen. Susan Collins, at a podium, addresses supporters in Bangor, Maine.
Sen. Susan Collins addresses supporters just after midnight Wednesday in Bangor, Maine.
(Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)

Republican Sen. Susan Collins has won her bid for reelection in Maine, proving the resilience of her appeal as a centrist voice in an increasingly polarized political world.

The incumbent defeated Democrat Sara Gideon, moving Republicans one step closer to retaining their majority in the Senate, where they now have a 53-47 advantage.

The campaign drew national attention after Collins, who has branded herself as an independent willing to stand up to President Trump, in 2018 voted to confirm conservative Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Gideon, speaker of the Maine state house, benefitted from a tidal wave of contributions from anti-Trump donors across the country who saw Collins as a Trump accomplice. But that was not enough to overcome the loyalty Collins has built over 24 years as the state’s senator.

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California voters approve Proposition 24, giving consumers new rights to limit the sharing of their personal information

Voters approved Proposition 24, which will impose new restrictions on data collection and boost enforcement of privy regulations.

The ballot measure seeks to reinforce and redefine parts of the California Consumer Privacy Act, a 2019 law that gave state residents new rights as to how companies collect and use their personal information.

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Voters reject Prop. 16, which would have allowed affirmative action policies in California

California voters have opposed Proposition 16, which would have repealed the decades-old ban on affirmative action policies at public colleges and other government agencies based on race, ethnicity or sex.

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Trump campaign says it will seek recount in Wisconsin

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign said Wednesday it would request a recount in Wisconsin, where Joe Biden has a slim lead after all ballots have been counted.

“Wisconsin has been a razor-thin race as we always knew that it would be,” said Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager. “There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.”

The statement did not specify any irregularities.

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Even with a declared winner, when are results really official? Here’s the short answer

WASHINGTON — No state has official results yet, the national associations for secretaries of state and state election directors emphasized Wednesday.

And some states, like California, won’t certify the votes until December.

“While the media has called many races, it is important to remember these results are unofficial and numbers will continue to change until they have been reviewed and certified by election officials,” the organizations said in a joint statement. “Please know, this is standard for each election.”

States all have different election rules. For example, whether mailed ballots have to arrive by election day or if there is a grace period. Some states count such ballots as they arrive. Others don’t allow any ballots to be processed until election day; that’s one reason Pennsylvania and Michigan are still not done counting mail-in ballots.

Then, each state has its own deadlines for local and state officials to certify election results.

California has one of the latest deadlines, giving the secretary of state until Dec. 11 to certify the results. Delaware is the soonest; their results must be certified by Friday.

Most states give officials two to three weeks to count ballots and certify the results. The pivotal swing state of Pennsylvania has until Nov. 11. Florida has until Nov. 17.

States have until mid-December to present their certified results to the electoral college.

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Georgia officials pushing to finish count today

ATLANTA — In the Southern battleground state of Georgia, where Trump currently leads by a slim margin as some Democratic-leaning counties continue to tally their votes, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday he was “pushing really hard” for counties to get all their results counted by the end of the day.

So far, with more than 4.7 million votes tallied, Trump leads the state by 50.3% to Biden’s 48.4%. But about 200,000 mail-in ballots and 40,000 early votes remain uncounted — and the vast bulk are in the heavily Democratic metro Atlanta counties of Fulton and DeKalb.

“Every legal vote will count,” Raffensperger said at a news briefing at the Georgia Capitol. “That’s our process and we follow our state law.”

While Georgia has faced criticism for its slow counting of votes, Raffensperger touted the state’s progress in minimizing long lines at polling stations and promised that the state would have results more quickly than states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“Perhaps for the first time in Georgia, we had an election day where wait times were below 10 minutes across the state,” he said.

“It’s a close election,” he said. “We’re doing fine and we’re really pleased with it.”

Soon, he added, “we’ll be off everyone’s radar and they’ll be worried about states up north.”

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Biden leads in Wisconsin with all votes counted, but a recount is expected

MILWAUKEE — With Joe Biden holding a tiny lead over President Trump in Wisconsin, a recount appears all but certain. It can be expected to take more than a month.

Wisconsin’s elections commission administrator, Meagan Wolfe, told NBC News on Wednesday morning that all of the state’s counties had posted their results.

Biden’s 20,697-vote margin put him a little more than half a percentage point ahead of Trump, out of more than 3.2 million votes. Wisconsin law permits recounts when one side leads by less than 1%.Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said Wednesday he expected the margin in the state to remain tight enough to qualify for a recount.

Wisconsin is no stranger to close presidential elections and to recounts. In 2016, Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested a second tabulation of the votes; Trump still had a more than 22,000-vote victory over Hillary Clinton.

Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes are critical to both Biden and Trump.

The state’s laws require votes to be counted by Wednesday afternoon. The final results are then subject to a canvass review by counties. That process must begin by Nov. 10 at the latest and has to be completed by Nov. 17. A request for a recount in a presidential contest must come within a day of the canvass being completed.

In 2016, the results of the recount were not announced until Dec. 12.

“All of the ballots have indeed been counted,” Wolfe told NBC on Wednesday morning.

The state pays for the recount in cases where the margin is 0.25% or less of the total votes. If the petitioner pays, costs are refunded if the recount changes the election outcome.

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Ocasio-Cortez will no longer be youngest in Congress: This 25-year-old will be

Madison Cawthorn addresses the virtual Republican National Convention on Aug. 26.
Madison Cawthorn addresses the virtual Republican National Convention on Aug. 26. The new congressman tweeted his followers, “Cry more, lib,” before issuing a statement thanking supporters.
(Republication National Committee)

WASHINGTON — Republican Madison Cawthorn, 25, of North Carolina will become the youngest member elected to Congress in decades.

Cawthorn, whose 25th birthday was Aug. 1, beat Democrat Moe Davis to win North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. The seat was vacated when Mark Meadows became White House chief of staff.

New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is currently the youngest elected member in modern history. She was 29 years old when elected in 2018. The Constitution requires members of Congress to be at least 25 years old.

The most recent 25-year-old elected to Congress was Thomas Joseph Downey in 1974. The youngest representative in U.S. history was William Charles Cole Claiborne of Tennessee, who was elected in 1797 at age 22. The House chose to seat him despite not meeting the constitutional age requirement.

Cawthorn reacted to his win by tweeting, “Cry more, lib,” before issuing a statement thanking supporters.

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‘Every vote counts.’ Pennsylvania governor urges patience as the count continues

PHILADELPHIA — With at least 1.4 million Pennsylvania mail-in ballots still uncounted, Joe Biden remains within striking distance of carrying the crucial battleground state despite President Trump’s nearly 600,000-vote lead in the count on Wednesday morning.

The former vice president has been winning the mail-ballot vote by lopsided margins, but they could take several days to process and count.

Nearly 800,000 of the outstanding mail-in ballots come from six large counties in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas that fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Hours after Trump declared falsely that he’d won reelection and that counting the remaining ballots was “a fraud on the American public,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf urged Americans to be patient as the nation endured the stress test on its democracy.

“The promise of democracy is that every vote counts, and that has been the promise of democracy since 1787,” Wolf said Wednesday at a news briefing with Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a fellow Democrat.

Boockvar said the tabulation was going remarkably smoothly as thousands of county election officials processed roughly 2.6 million mail-in ballots — about 10 times the number that were cast in Pennsylvania four years ago.

“I urge everybody to remain patient,” she said.

In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,284 votes out of nearly 6.2 million cast.

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Joe Biden plans to address the nation later today — possibly to declare victory, campaign says

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden campaign officials said they expected both Michigan and Wisconsin to be called for the Democrat shortly and that leads he had amassed in other states would put him over the top in the electoral college.

But they also cautioned that some states they expected to win would not finish counting votes Wednesday.

“By this afternoon, we believe the vice president will have leads in states that will put him over 270 electoral votes,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a briefing.

Although Biden would not need to win Pennsylvania to emerge victorious, the campaign expressed confidence he would win there based on the large number of uncounted mail-in votes that were likely to lean heavily Democratic.

That state will not be done with its count until later in the week. Nevada, a crucial state for Biden where he holds a narrow lead, also will not be done counting on Wednesday.

As the campaign asserted its lead was too big for Trump to overcome, Biden campaign legal advisor Bob Bauer mocked President Trump’s threats of lawsuits to overturn voting results. He noted that efforts by the GOP to suppress votes this election had been rejected repeatedly by judges.

Bauer said Trump’s strategy amounted to arguing to the Supreme Court that it should toss ballots legally cast “but that did not get counted by the time Donald Trump wanted them counted.”

“He will be in for one of the most embarrassing defeats the president ever suffered for the highest court of the land,” Bauer said.

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An election first: 2 Democrats expected to become first openly gay Black members of Congress

Mondaire Jones addresses a Black Lives Matter rally in White Plains, N.Y., in July.
Mondaire Jones, shown addressing a Black Lives Matter rally in New York in July, is expected to win his congressional race.
(Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — Democrats Ritchie Torres of New York and Mondaire Jones of New York are expected to become the first openly gay Black members of Congress.

Both replace retiring Democrats; Torres replaces Rep. Jose Serrano. Jones replaces Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Congress currently has nine openly LGBTQ members, including California Democrat Rep. Mark Takano, who became the first openly gay representative of color when he was elected in 2012, and Kansas Democrat Rep. Sharice Davids, elected in 2018, who is the first openly gay woman of color in Congress.

Both won their elections Tuesday.

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Using 2000 throwback, Trump ally bolsters evidence-free claim of ballot fraud

WASHINGTON — Matt Schlapp, a close Trump ally who attended Tuesday’s White House celebration and leads the American Conservative Union, tweeted a picture of the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot” of 2000, when Republican operatives successfully stopped ballot counting in Miami-Dade County.

He used the hashtag “StopTheSteal,” bolstering Trump’s evidence-free claim that there is fraud in the ballot-counting process.

In an interview, he said he did not want to stop the counting of legally cast ballots.

“My experience from the Florida recount is that every legal vote should count but there needs to be 100% compliance to make that ballots — especially early, absentee, vote mail vote — is faithful to the letter of the law, especially in terms of when the ballot was cast,” he said.

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Trump falsely claims his voting leads started to ‘magically disappear’

President Trump waves after speaking at the Trump campaign headquarters on election day.
President Trump waves after speaking on election day at the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — President Trump baselessly described the standard vote counting process as something nefarious on Wednesday morning, leaning into his false accusations of fraud in hopes of salvaging his reelection bid.

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled,” Trump tweeted. “Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!”

At the same time the president was undermining faith in the election, his campaign officials were telling reporters that they believed the vote counting in political battlegrounds would deliver him a victory over Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

“We trust our data. We trust our math,” said Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager.

He said there might be a recount in Wisconsin, which could take place if the margin of victory is within 1 percentage point. He also said Trump expected to come out on top in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, all places where Biden also is hoping to triumph.

Stepien insisted that Arizona would ultimately back the president too, even though the Associated Press has already projected a Biden victory there.

“Arizona, with the votes that are still being counted, will come the president’s way at day’s end,” he said.

Jason Miller, a Trump campaign advisor, said “our legal teams are in place,” previewing what could become intense litigation over the results.

He said they wanted to make sure “all legally cast ballots are counted” and “illegally cast ballots are not counted.”

The Trump campaign has been blasting out fundraising pleas to supporters on Wednesday morning.

“Don’t let the Democrats manipulate the results,” one said. Another warned, “The left will try to steal the election!”

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Any congressional surprises? GOP gains, especially women

WASHINGTON — Democratic control of the House was never realistically in question in 2020, but Democrats’ and pundits’ prediction that they would increase their margins by five to 20 seats by making inroads into Trump strongholds didn’t pan out.

Instead, Republicans exceeded expectations, netting at least six seats. That includes defeating one of the few remaining rural Democrats in the House, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

But the biggest victory may have been for Republican women, who secured at least five seats, bringing the GOP closer to its pre-2018 numbers. There are currently 13 Republican women and 88 Democratic women in the House, according to Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics.

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Holly Mitchell leads Herb Wesson in race for L.A. County Board of Supervisors seat

State Sen. Holly Mitchell took a strong lead Tuesday evening in a race against Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson for a seat on the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Mitchell had just under 61% to Wesson’s 39% as of early Wednesday morning, according to the L.A. County registrar-recorder’s election results.

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L.A. County voters strongly favoring measure that would increase funding for social services

Los Angeles County voters were strongly favoring passage of a ballot measure that would divert more county funds to social services and jail diversion programs, according to early results from the L.A. County registrar-recorder’s office.

As of early Wednesday morning, 57% of voters had cast ballots in favor of the proposal, called Measure J, according to the results.

Measure J, if it passes, would require that 10% of locally generated, unrestricted county money — estimated between $360 million and $900 million — be spent on a variety of social services, including housing, mental health treatment and investments in communities disproportionally harmed by racism. The county would be prohibited from using the money on prisons, jails or law enforcement agencies.

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GOP Sen. Susan Collins holds lead in Maine, but race is tight

PORTLAND, Maine — The costliest political race in Maine history didn’t conclude on election day: Neither Republican Sen. Susan Collins nor Democratic Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon were able to declare victory.

Ballots were still being counted to determine a winner in the hard-fought contest, one of several that were crucial in determining whether Democrats would be able to take control of the Senate.

“We’re doing really well, but I know it’s not over until it’s over,” Collins told reporters late Tuesday in Bangor before calling it a night.

Gideon, for her part, did not appear before reporters at a Portland hotel but issued a statement saying she was grateful to her supporters.

“It’s clear this race will not be called tonight, and we are prepared to see it through to the finish. Over the coming days, we will make sure that every Mainer has their voice heard in this election,” she said.

The Senate race was the most expensive in Maine history, with Gideon raising nearly $70 million, more than double the $27 million that Collins raised. But that didn’t include so-called dark money. All told, more than $120 million was spent by both candidates and their allies on advertising.

With most but not all votes counted, Collins held a slim majority, but it was too early to declare a winner.

Further complicating the picture is Maine’s ranked-choice voting system. If no candidate wins a majority of first-place votes, then there need to be additional tabulations, aided by computers, in which last-place candidates are eliminated and votes reallocated to ensure a majority-vote winner.

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Northern battleground states prove their importance once again

The fate of the presidency hung in the balance Wednesday morning as President Trump and Joe Biden dueled over 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 Wisconsin gave Biden an extremely narrow lead, but it was still too early to call the race. Hundreds of thousands of votes were outstanding in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

By Tuesday night’s end, the margins were exceedingly tight, with the candidates trading wins in other battleground states across the country. Trump picked up Florida, the largest of the swing states, while Biden flipped Arizona, a state that has reliably voted Republican for decades.

Neither candidate has yet reached the 270 electoral college votes needed to capture the White House.

In an extraordinary move from the White House, Trump issued premature claims of victory 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.

Biden, appearing in front of supporters in Delaware, urged patience, saying the election “ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”

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With many ballots still outstanding, Nevada is too close to call

LAS VEGAS — Early results showed Joe Biden with a slim lead over President Trump in Nevada, but it was too early to declare a winner in the race Wednesday with a large number of ballots yet to be counted.

The Nevada secretary of state’s office said a new batch of results would be released Thursday after 9 a.m. Mail-in ballots received on election day had not yet been counted, along with any mail ballots postmarked no later than Nov. 3 that arrive over the next week and any provisional ballots.

The number of outstanding mail ballots is difficult to estimate, the elections office said, because Nevada opted to automatically mail ballots to all active registered voters this year, and it’s hard to predict how many will choose to return them.

No Republican presidential candidate has carried Nevada since 2004, but the state has remained a battleground. Trump fell just shy of winning Nevada and its six electoral college votes four years ago, and this year he campaigned hard in the state hoping for better luck.

Democrats and Joe Biden’s campaign said that while they have been successful in recent elections in Nevada, they weren’t taking anything for granted this year.

By Tuesday evening, shortly before polls closed, turnout in Nevada was already 8% higher than all of 2016.

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With Milwaukee counted, Biden takes razor-thin lead in Wisconsin

Joe Biden moved past President Trump to take a razor-thin lead in Wisconsin early Wednesday after the state counted mail-in votes from the overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee.

A victory in the state could help Biden find a path to the 270 electoral college votes required to win the presidency. Other key states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Biden currently trails, were still waiting to count votes from significantly pro-Democratic cities that could tip the balance away from Trump.

Votes were still being counted in Wisconsin, and the state was still too close to call early Wednesday after the crop of Milwaukee votes was tallied. As of about 2 a.m. Pacific time, Biden led 1,582,605 votes to Trump’s 1,574,461, an extremely narrow advantage of 49.4% to 49.1%.

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Democrats’ hopes for capturing a Senate majority fade

WASHINGTON — Democrats’ hopes of sweeping to a Senate majority faded as marquee contests stretched into overtime early Wednesday and some of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents remained in contention while the vote counts dragged on.

Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, whose defeats had been considered essential building blocks of a new Democratic majority, held narrow leads over their opponents in nearly complete results. If they eke out wins, Democrats’ path to a majority would all but vanish.

Given the races remaining to be called, perhaps the best Democrats could achieve is a 50-50 split, which would give them a majority only if Joe Biden won the presidential election and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, then became vice president and presided over the Senate as its tie-breaker.

Democrats had headed into election day favored to win a slight majority in the Senate, but returns were mixed early on as polls closed across the country.

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News Analysis: No blue wave — or winner — as election outcome waits on a long count

WASHINGTON — As the country settles in for a prolonged count to determine the winner of the 2020 election, this much is clear: Democratic hopes for a wave of votes that would sweep away barriers to progressive policy changes have suffered a significant setback.

Joe Biden continues to have a strong chance of winning the presidency by carrying the big industrial states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Arizona, where he holds a strong lead. The party will also retain control of the House.
But in the final weeks of the campaign, favorable polls and a flood of campaign money had raised Democratic hopes of a significantly larger victory, one that would decisively repudiate the Trump-era Republican Party, expand Democrats’ House majority, give them clear control of the Senate and open the way to passage of long-stalled legislation on voting rights, climate change, immigration reform and other Democratic priorities.

Instead, the election results so far have proved the continued strength not only of President Trump, but of the country’s deeply entrenched partisan divide. Democratic hopes of a Senate majority dwindled through the night, raising the likelihood that even if he’s elected, Biden will face a divided Congress as well as a Supreme Court with a conservative majority that was strengthened last month with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Biden publicly expressed confidence Tuesday night while Trump accused Democrats and the media of trying to “disenfranchise” his supporters.

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