This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from Thursday, November 5, 2020.
The United States remained in electoral purgatory on Wednesday afternoon as officials scrambled to count the millions of votes still outstanding after Tuesday's presidential election.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden sustained an overall Electoral College lead after being projected as the winner in key Midwestern battlegrounds Wisconsin and Michigan. President Donald Trump vowed to take legal action in both states, as well as in Pennsylvania, where over 1 million ballots remained uncounted.
Stories we're following:
Key Georgia county reports issue counting estimated 80,000 absentee ballots
Election officials in a suburban Georgia county that could help determine whether Biden or Trump takes the state have flagged an issue affecting up to 80,000 hand-marked absentee ballots scanned by a new voting system.
The votes, cast in Gwinnett County, are scanned in batches, and 3,200 of the batches, with each batch containing a maximum of 25 ballots, had at least one ballot that needed review, county spokeswoman Heather Sawyer said in an email.
The batches must remain together, so the county temporarily approved the problematic ballots and re-scanned the batches, but will go back to review the ballots that previously couldn’t be scanned, which will change final vote tallies, Sawyer said.
Unique in Georgia, the county, with a population of 936,250, uses a two-page absentee ballot printed in English and Spanish. The multipage ballot could have been an issue if new users didn’t have adequate training, Eddie Perez, an analyst for election technology advocacy group OSET, told NBC News in an email. NBC News has collaborated with the OSET Institute since 2016 to monitor U.S. election-technology and voting issues.
Dominion, provider of the new $150 million voting system in place across Georgia, declined to comment.
Democrat Sara Gideon concedes to Republican Sen. Susan Collins
Republican incumbent Susan Collins is the apparent winner in Maine's Senate race, NBC News projects.
Democrat challenger Sara Gideon conceded to Collins, a top target of Democrats this election cycle, earlier Wednesday.
"We came up short," Gideon told supporters Wednesday afternoon. She said she'd called Collins to wish her well.
"I congratulated her on winning this election and told her I'll always be available to help serve the people of Maine," Gideon said.
Collins called the call "very gracious." "We had a good talk," she said.
The race was the most expensive in Maine history. Collins raised more than $26.5 million and spent over $23 million, while Gideon brought in more than $68.5 million and spent nearly $48 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Judge furious that Postal Service didn't sweep mail-sorting facilities for ballots as ordered
A federal judge blasted the Postal Service on Wednesday because it did not follow his court order to perform a sweep of mail-sorting facilities Tuesday afternoon for any undelivered ballots.
“It just leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth for the clock to run out, game’s over and then we find out that there was not compliance with a very important court order,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said during a hearing Wednesday.
Joseph Borson, a Justice Department attorney representing the Postal Service, said that the agency had told him after Tuesday's order that there was not enough time for it to fulfill the court's order, as Postal Service agents were not in position to sweep its 220 facilities across the United States.
“I wish we knew that earlier, so we could convey that,” Borson said, but he noted that the Postal Service had conducted sweeps beginning at 7 a.m. on Election Day that continued throughout the day. Only 13 undelivered ballots were found.
The overarching issue is about 300,000 mailed ballots that were not scanned by the Postal Service.
Voter advocates and the Postal Service both warn that just because the 300,000 ballots were not scanned does not mean they were not delivered. Both sides emphasized that in rushing ballots in the final week prior to the election, the Postal Service sacrificed tracking to ensure ballots’ quick delivery. Instead, some were pulled from circulation and prioritized.
Lawyers in the lawsuit maintain, however, that the Postal Service has not acted transparently and they want to certify that all of the agency’s facilities have been swept.
Fact check: Trump's false, misleading claims about ballot counting in key states
President Trump on Wednesday continued to promote false claims about the election and ballot processing after vote tallies in key states appeared to move in Joe Biden's favor in the early morning hours.
Twitter flagged a series of the president's tweets as "misleading," including one in which he said, in part, that his leads "started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted." There were no "surprise" ballot dumps in the states Trump appears to be referencing — states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan that NBC News has characterized as too close to call and will be pivotal to deciding who wins the White House.
Valid ballots are still being tabulated in those states, and rules restricting when officials in key states could begin processing mail ballots have delayed the vote count into Wednesday, at least.
In another tweet, Trump claimed, "They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!"
This is an incorrect characterization, since officials are not "finding" Biden ballots. More Democrats voted by mail this year than did Republicans, and as more mail ballots are processed, the totals are changing.
In one of the earlier tweets that Twitter labeled as misleading, Trump also appeared to suggest that Democratic officials are corruptly influencing the elections in their states. There's no evidence for this. Republicans also hold control of at least one part of the legislature in Michigan and Wisconsin, two states where Trump was leading last night but where valid mail ballots have caused the tallies to shift narrowly in Biden's favor with 97 percent of the expected vote in.
In fact, the president's party and his campaign bear some responsibility for the counting delays Trump is using to cast doubt on the validity of the results. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania sought to change the rules to enable the processing of mail-in ballots prior to Nov. 3, but negotiations broke down between the state's Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled House; each side blamed the other.
In Michigan, Republicans in the state Legislature only agreed to allow larger jurisdictions to get a 10-hour head start on pre-canvassing ballots, even as election officials pushed for more time. In Wisconsin, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson pushed the state's Republican Legislature to allow the processing of mail ballots ahead of Election Day, but the it did not act.
Trump, Biden wait as vote counting continues in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania
WASHINGTON/DETROIT — The presidential election remained undecided Wednesday, turning the nation's attention to a handful of battleground states that continue to tabulate the crush of mail-in ballots that will decide if Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be victorious.
NBC News has projected the outcome in 42 states, giving Biden a narrow lead over Trump in the Electoral College count. But both remain shy of the 270 delegates needed to win, with many critical battleground states still either too early or too close to call.
As of Wednesday morning, NBC News has yet to project a winner in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. Biden leads in Arizona. Some of these states have indicated that enough of their vote total could be in by the end of the day in order for a winner to be projected.
Trump's campaign manager says they will 'immediately' call for a Wisconsin recount
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien on Wednesday said the campaign will "immediately" request a recount in Wisconsin.
"The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so," he said.
As it stands, Biden holds a lead of more than 20,000 votes over Trump in Wisconsin with virtually all of the vote having been reported.
Wisconsin election law allows for candidates to request a recount if the margin in the race is 1 percent or less. Biden is currently up by 0.6 points over Trump.
But former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, warned that the effort could be futile.
"After recount in 2011 race for WI Supreme Court, there was a swing of 300 votes," Walker tweeted. "After recount in 2016 Presidential race in WI, @realDonaldTrump numbers went up by 131. As I said, 20,000 is a high hurdle."
Dow soars by more than 800 points, as investors regroup without 'blue wave'
Wall Street continued to climb Wednesday, recording some of the biggest gains since April, even as investors braced for a lengthy wait to determine the winner of the presidential election.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by around 800 points, with the S&P 500 trading higher by around 3.4 percent as traders ditched infrastructure and industrial stocks in favor of tech stocks. The rebound came as traders reassessed the possibility of a "blue wave" that would have accelerated the passing of a stimulus package.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped by as much as 4.5 percent, as investors sought out safer havens in a sector that has performed well under stay-at-home orders. Shares in Facebook were up 8 percent, Alphabet was higher by 7 percent, and Amazon gained by around 6 percent.
Many investors see continued Republican control in the Senate as good for markets, with lower prospects of new taxes or regulation hitting their bottom line.
Georgia still has at least 240,000 votes left to count, secretary of state says
In Georgia, where the presidential race is too close to call, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday morning “our job isn’t done yet” and that they still need to count 200,000 mail-in ballots and between 40,000 and 50,000 early in-person votes.
He said that the counties covering the Atlanta metro area, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb, as well as Forsyth County, are still counting all of those votes and then will need to move on to counting ballots returned by overseas and military voters.
Raffensperger said his team across the state is trying to finish counting the votes by the end of the day.
"Every legal ballot will be counted,” he said.
Partisan observers fuel tension as Detroit election workers tally absentee ballots
DETROIT — As the nation anxiously awaits the final vote tally in Michigan, the state's political attention is turning to a massive convention center basement in downtown Detroit.
Hundreds of election workers have been working in shifts here since Monday to process an unprecedented flood of absentee ballots in Detroit that will be crucial to determining whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden won this battleground state, and whether Democrat Gary Peters has held onto his seat in the Senate.
Both political parties are here in large numbers, with scores of partisan observers representing major political parties as well as organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Election Integrity Fund, an organization affiliated with the conservative Thomas More Society that sued the state over the summer over its absentee ballot procedures.
The counting process has mostly been peaceful but poll challengers say they've seen some tense exchanges.
"There's been some aggressive conduct and sharp disputes," Democratic challenger Ralph Simpson, a Detroit lawyer and political activist, said. "Things like 'show me the ballots,' and 'should those be counted?'"
But ballot counting has continued.
Michigan secretary of state says major cities to complete count within hours
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday she expects for the remaining, uncounted vote in places such as Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids to come in later in the day.
The country will have a "much better picture [of Michigan] by the end of today," she told reporters at news conference.
Benson said the reason the count has been lengthy is because election workers are tasked with confirming the validity of every ballot. Tens of thousands, she added, remain outstanding.
"You all can trust the results as an accurate reflection as a will of the people," she said.
As it stands, Biden holds a more than 30,000 vote advantage over Trump in the Wolverine State as he seeks to flip the state Trump carried in 2016. Much of the remaining vote in Michigan comes from areas that lean Democratic, like Detroit.
NBC News Exit Poll: In Maine, Biden wins solid support from liberals, women and voters 65 and older
Joe Biden is projected to win Maine with strong backing from groups including women, college graduates and voters 65 and older, according to the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters.
Support for Biden in Maine was, not surprisingly, strongest from liberals — 94 percent of them went for Biden, and they comprise 3 in 10 voters in Maine. In addition, 61 percent of moderates and 57 percent of independents also voted for Biden.
Sixty-four percent of women cast ballots for Biden as did 69 percent of college graduates and 63 percent of voters 65 and older.
Vote Watch: Twitter takes action on multiple Trump tweets
Twitter is taking quick action on the president's tweets calling into question the legitimacy of the election.
The social media platform labeled two of Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning with warnings that their claims regarding continuing vote counts were potentially misleading about the election, following a similar action taken in the early morning hours.
In one tweet, which Twitter also restricted from comments, likes and retweets, Trump baselessly claimed his advantage in states led by Democrats "started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted."
Another used a manipulated or misleading screenshot of a map from an elections results reporting outlet to suggest that 100 percent of a new count of votes in Michigan went to Biden. That did not happen.
"As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” Twitter spokesperson Nicholas Pacilio said in a statement. “Our teams continue to monitor Tweets that attempt to spread misleading information about voting, accounts engaged in spammy behavior, and Tweets that make premature or inaccurate claims about election results. Our teams remain vigilant and will continue working to protect the integrity of the election conversation on Twitter."
Twitter’s actions follow several similar steps from election night in which it labeled and limited engagement on a tweet from Trump claiming Democrats were trying to “steal the election.” Facebook took similar steps to label identical posts on its platform.
Biden wins Maine, NBC News projects
Biden picked up three of the state’s four Electoral College votes Wednesday afternoon as key states continued counting ballots. NBC News has not allocated the remaining Electoral College vote.
No winner in the presidential contest has been declared.
Pa. officials urge patience with 50 percent of mail-in ballots counted
Pennsylvania officials urged patience at a press conference Wednesday morning as counties continued to tally mail-in ballots, saying again that they had expected for the count to be a slow process.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he’s confident that all votes will be counted fully and accurately.
“I will do everything within my power to ensure that the results are fair and that every vote is counted. Pennsylvania will have a fair election,” he said, adding that it would be “free of outside influences. We all will vigorously defend against any attempt to attack that vote in Pennsylvania.”
Wolf added, “We may not know the results even today.”
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that they expect to receive 2.5 to 3 million mail-in ballots — 10 times the number of mail-in ballots cast in 2016. Only 50 percent have been counted as of Wednesday morning, she said, saying millions more were still left to be tallied.
Boockvar said to expect “a lot of updates” throughout the day.
Beschloss: America has always been divided
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss says elections have often been contested throughout American history, including in 2000 and 1876, and that early voting and mail-in ballots will only add to the situation. He also says that the heavy voting turnout is a sign that "our democracy is flourishing.”
Trump's Florida victory powered in part by Miami overperformance
WASHINGTON — A huge story early last night was Joe Biden’s swing-and-a-miss in Miami-Dade County, Florida — which he appears to have won by only about 7 points compared with Hillary Clinton’s 30-point romp four years ago.
That collapse was enough to negate Biden’s improvement over Clinton in other swing counties such as Pinellas and Seminole.
But there’s another wrinkle: While Biden lost big, it wasn’t because he missed Democrats’ mark in the state dramatically when it comes to votes.
At this hour, Biden has received about 617,000 votes in the county. That’s not too far below Clinton’s 624,000.
The difference? President Trump piled nearly 200,000 additional votes onto his 2016 tally.
In 2016, Trump got about 334,000 votes in the county. That’s compared with 532,000 to date this cycle.
Trump campaign argues he has a path to victory
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien argued on a call with reporters Wednesday morning that the president could pull off wins in Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia and said he thought Wisconsin was headed for "recount territory."
NBC News has not yet projected a winner in any of these states.
Stepien also continued to push a false narrative that Democrats were attempting "to count late ballots," an attack that the president has used to cast unfounded doubt on the legitimacy of a Biden win.
"If we count all legally cast ballots, we believe the president will win," Stepien said.
Florida votes to raise state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour
Florida voted Tuesday to gradually hike the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, joining a growing list of states and municipalities in taking the step.
The 2020 election ballot initiative garnered the 60 percent support needed to pass, according to The Associated Press. Florida becomes the eighth state to approve a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and the second-most populous to do so.
The measure would increase the state’s current $8.56-an-hour pay floor to $10 next year. For every year after that, the minimum wage would rise by $1 an hour until it hits $15 in 2026.
The day after: Counting ballots in Michigan
Ritchie Torres becomes first gay Afro Latino elected to Congress
Ritchie Torres has won his House race for New York’s 15th Congressional District, making him the first gay Afro Latino person elected to Congress.
Torres was all but certain to win in his deep-blue House district. He defeated Republican Patrick Delices, a former professor of Caribbean studies at Hunter College.
He fills a seat left by Rep. Jose Serrano, a 16-term Democrat who said last year that he would not run for re-election.
"Tonight we made history," Torres tweeted Tuesday night, calling it "the honor of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives so that New York City could live" during the pandemic.
Torres could be joined by Mondaire Jones, who's currently ahead in his race for New York's 17th Congressional District, as the first gay Black members of Congress.
Read more here.
Wall Street rises at opening bell as investors brace for long wait to determine election outcome
Wall Street rose Wednesday morning as investors braced for a lengthy wait to determine the winner of the presidential election.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by around 230 points at the opening bell, with the S&P 500 trading higher by around 1.6 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq soared by around 2.6 percent as investors sought out safer havens in a sector that has performed well under stay-at-home orders. Shares in tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet were all up more than 2 percent Wednesday morning.
Traders prepared to face the two outcomes they had most feared in the run-up to the election — a contested result, or no Senate majority but a win by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Some of the biggest swings in the last 24 hours came overnight, after President Donald Trump falsely claimed he had won the election. Neither NBC News nor any other major news organization has declared a winner.
Dingell: Women will help Biden win Michigan
Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell, who won re-election to a fourth term in the battleground state of Michigan, tells "TODAY" she's "not surprised" by the tightness of the presidential race there, but predicts Joe Biden will win the state with the help of a lot of women who didn't vote in 2016 but came out this year.
First Read: Win or lose, Trump and his politics look like they're here to stay
WASHINGTON — Whether or not President Trump ultimately wins or loses — and the remaining vote appears to be strong for Joe Biden — Trumpism looks like it’s here to stay.
Democrats were hoping for a repudiation of Trump; that a GOP loss so big would force Republicans to the negotiating table, to try to compete for votes in urban/suburban America, and to dial down the scorched-earth politics over the last few years.
Instead, even if Trump doesn’t win, he might have helped the GOP keep its Senate majority and pick up House seats when Republicans looked destined to lose them.
Bottom line: Even if he’s voted out of office — as we continue to count the votes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Trump and his brand of politics aren’t leaving the political scene.
Read more here.
Pollsters: Blame the founding fathers
NBC pollsters Bill McInturff and Jeff Horwitt talk about the still-undetermined presidential election. McInturff says not to blame pollsters for the surprisingly close race: "Blame the Founding Fathers" who created the Electoral College. Horwitt agrees that it's "a humbling experience for all of us" and points to the 2018 election, when outcomes changed as votes were counted.
Reading the fine print on how mail-in ballots are counted in Pennsylvania
As election officials continue to count ballots in the battleground state of Pennsylvania where the presidential race is too early to call, it's important to consider the fine print as far as how mail-in ballots are considered.
It's not completely correct to say that ballots will be counted as long as they are received by Friday at 5 p.m. ET and postmarked on or before Election Day.
Ballots did not necessarily need to be postmarked on or before Nov. 3, but they can't show any indication that they were sent after then.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said in its ruling: “Ballots mailed by voters via the United States Postal Service and postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020, shall be counted if they are otherwise valid and received by the county boards of election on or before 5:00 p.m. on November 6, 2020; ballots received within this period that lack a postmark or other proof of mailing, or for which the postmark or other proof of mailing is illegible, will be presumed to have been mailed by Election Day unless a preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that it was mailed after Election Day.”
With a handful of states left to call, see which paths to 270 remain
There are fewer than 10 states left to call. These states, and the electoral college votes they represent, will determine the next president. You can plot a path to the White House for the candidates with our Road to 270 map, note that you cannot change the states in which NBC News has projected a winner.
Pa. Gov. Wolf blasts GOP for calling on state's secretary of state to resign over ballot counting
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf blasted GOP leaders in his state for calling on Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to resign Tuesday because of how the state has handled the counting of ballots.
"This is a partisan attack on Pennsylvania's elections and our votes. Our election officials are working diligently to make sure every vote is counted and everyone's voice is heard. Attacks like this are an attempt to undermine confidence in the results of the election, and we should all denounce them for the undemocratic actions they are," Wolf said in a statement.
He added that he supports Boockvar and all local election officials "who are working hard to deliver timely, accurate results and ensure that everyone's vote is counted and protected."
Boockvar said Tuesday night that she had no intent to resign and said that the Republican leaders "should be the ones to resign for not having allowed Pennsylvania to start pre canvassing ballots early as 46 other states across the country have done. We would be getting results a lot sooner if they had.”
The race is still too early to call, according to NBC News.
Nevada done counting until Thursday morning
As America counts its votes, world hedges its bets
LONDON — Millions around the world had their eyes glued to the election drama playing out in America on Wednesday, with allies stressing that no matter the winner, their relationships with the United States remained strong.
The election made headlines throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab struck a diplomatic tone, telling Sky News that the United KIngdom's relationship with the U.S. was in "great shape and we're confident that it will go from strength to strength whichever candidate wins the election."
In Germany, where President Trump is deeply unpopular, German lawmaker and the leader of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on German broadcaster ZDF that the German-American friendship had been "put to a tough test" in the past four years.
The election has also drawn significant interest in Japan. A former ambassador to the U.S. told NBC News that Tokyo’s close relationship with Washington wasn't dependent on its leader.
"If Mr. Biden comes in or Mr. Trump is re-elected, we're ready to dance with the new president," Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki said.