IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Highlights: Presidential candidates compete for battleground states

Get coverage and electoral vote updates.
Image; President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of red and blue stars in concentric circles.
Watch live presidential election results as ballots are counted in key swing states for President Trump and Joe Biden.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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:

—Nov. 5 highlights: Presidential candidates compete for battleground states

Amid shrinking odds of victory, Trump campaign plans legal battle

Republicans break with Trump, say take time to count all the votes

—See which counties in the remaining battleground states have the most votes left to count

Viral ‘ballot’ burning video shared by Eric Trump is fake

A viral video claiming to show ballots for President Trump being burned is fake, Virginia Beach officials said on Tuesday. 

The video shows an unidentified person putting what appear to be paper ballots in a plastic bag before dousing them with a flammable liquid and setting them on fire. While that person does not specify the location, other candidates that appear on the papers are from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The ballots, however, are not real and are actually sample ballots, the City of Virginia Beach said, noting that the papers in the video do not have barcode markings that appear on all official ballots. Fire officials are investigating the illegal burning, city officials told NBC News affiliate WAVY

On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump’s son, Eric Trump, retweeted the video, adding the caption, “Burning 80 Trump Ballots.”

The City of Virginia Beach responded to the tweet writing, “Those were sample ballots. Addressed this yesterday.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is the state’s project winner, gaining Virginia’s 13 Electoral College votes. 

Voters around the U.S. approve police reform measures

Voters in at least six states overwhelmingly approved police reform measures on Election Day, reflecting a growing demand for greater law enforcement accountability after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

Creating and strengthening police oversight boards, changing department staffing and funding levels and allowing greater public access to body and dashboard camera recordings were among the measures approved by voters around the country.

Many of the reforms run along the lines of laws already passed in localities in other states, such as Massachusetts and New York, in response to widespread protests over racial injustice and police violence nationwide.

Voters in nearly a dozen cities and counties in California, Texas, Oregon and Ohio approved creating, overhauling or strengthening police oversight boards.

In Portland, Oregon, where police protests have been ongoing since Floyd's death in May, over 80 percent of voters passed Measure 26-217, which amends the city's charter to create a police oversight committee that would have the power to investigate the use of deadly force and allegations of misconduct by officers. The committee would also have power to discipline officers for wrongdoing.

Read the full story.

Georgia GOP files lawsuit over absentee ballots


Sen. Gary Peters wins in Michigan, NBC News projects

Democratic incumbent Sen. Gary Peters defeats Republican John James in Michigan Senate race, NBC News projects.

Rebuffing Republican efforts to take a seat from Democrats in the Senate, incumber Sen. Gary Peters has fended off Republican challenger John James, NBC News projects.

A first-term senator, Peters faced a stronger challenge from James than was expected.

Rhode Island voters drop 'Providence Plantations' from state name

Voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that strips part of what has long been the state's official name — "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment dropping "Providence Plantations" passed with 52.9 percent of the vote, according to unofficial state results.

The name dates to the 17th century, when the Puritan minister Roger Williams founded plantations on the Providence River that later became the colony — and then the state — of Rhode Island.

An online petition this year pointed to the state's history as a slave-trading hub and argued that its name "holds the memory of an economic foundation built on slavery, and only keeps us connected to a shameful past."

Click here for the full story. 

'Not done': Why social media's biggest election test is ahead

There was a long list going into Election Day of horror stories that might have played out on social media. There could have been rampant interference by foreign governments, widespread hoaxes, a flood of deliberately false information about voting and much more.

The worst possibilities appeared not to have come to pass Tuesday, some tech researchers said, although they weren't ready to give tech platforms a sterling review just yet — especially after President Donald Trump set off a fresh wave of misinformation early Wednesday by falsely claiming that he had won.

A full accounting of how the end of the campaign played out on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is still to come as researchers and the companies themselves examine how people used the platforms. But early assessments indicated that, at least publicly, social media didn't stand out as a problem on Election Day.

Read the full story here.

International election monitors say no evidence of fraud in U.S. election, Trump claims ‘baseless’

International election monitors said Wednesday there is no evidence that the U.S. election was marked by systematic fraud and that allegations from President Donald Trump and others are “baseless.”

“We feel that these allegations of systemic wrongdoing during these elections have no solid ground,” Urszula Gacek, head observer mission for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters in Washington.

“To the contrary, given the extreme stress test the system was exposed to, and despite problems with resources both financially, and at least initially with the recruitment of poll workers, the American electoral process appears to have passed that stress test,” Gacek said.

Michael Georg Link, a former German diplomat who served as the special coordinator for the OSCE observer mission monitoring the U.S. vote, said that “baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions.”

The OSCE mission, with 102 observers from 39 countries, praised the work of state and local election officials and said the vote on Tuesday was well-managed despite the coronavirus pandemic, a deeply partisan climate and numerous legal battles over voting rules. The monitoring team will remain in the United States to observe the final counting of ballots and how legal challenges play out, Gacek said.


Nevada election officials reverse themselves on releasing vote count updates

Nevada election officials reversed themselves Wednesday night on when they would announce updated election results, going back to releasing the information on Thursday morning in what was the second such rescheduling of the day. 

The secretary of state’s elections division originally tweeted early Wednesday morning that they would announce more results on Thursday. But by Wednesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the office said an update would be provided later in the day because of the national and statewide interest. 

The elections division had hoped at least one of the two largest counties, Clark and Washoe, would have updates by Wednesday afternoon, but it was told those officials were still processing and counting ballots, the spokeswoman, Jennifer Russell, said. 

“Given that Washoe and Clark counties are not going to have updated results to provide us with till later, we decide to release an update on Thursday at 9 a.m. with all of the counties,” she said. 

Russell said state election officials originally decided not to release further election results till Thursday because they did not want to disrupt county elections offices while they were still tabulating ballots.

'A tipping point': Psychedelics, cannabis win big across the country on election night

As the nation awaits a final result from the presidential election, a clear winner emerged Tuesday: drugs.

Measures to legalize cannabis and decriminalize other drugs won major victories this week as five states — ArizonaNew JerseySouth DakotaMontana and Mississippi — legalized some form of marijuana use and Oregon became the first state to make possession of small amounts of harder drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, violations not punishable by jail time.

Voters in Oregon and Washington, D.C., also approved measures to allow for the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms, which are already being prescribed to help some terminally ill patients in Canada cope with pain and end-of-life anxiety.

"People are realizing it's not just about getting high," said Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of SIVA Enterprises, a cannabis business development and solutions firm based in Glendale, California, near Los Angeles. "This is a tipping point for drug policy absent any federal reform."

Click here for the full story.