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Nov. 5 highlights: Vote counting goes on in battleground states

Read the latest news and updates as key states count remaining votes.
Image; President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of red and blue stars in concentric circles.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from November 6, 2020.

Election Day stretched into its third day on Thursday as Americans anxiously awaited results in several key states.

Joe Biden maintained his lead over President Donald Trump, who delivered a series of false claims about the election on Thursday night and has vowed legal action in several battleground states as the Electoral College gap widened.

Stories we're following:

All eyes on battleground vote counts as anxious nation waits

Trump campaign presses legal challenges as swing states count away

—Could a recount flip a key battleground? History says don't count on it.

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

GOP seeks to withdraw Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, lawsuit

648d ago / 7:05 PM UTC

The two plaintiffs behind the Republican-backed lawsuit claiming improprieties in the handling of mail ballots in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are now seeking to withdraw their claim.

In what is clearly a tactical retreat, GOP congressional candidate Kathy Barnette says because there’s another case in state court that raises similar claims, she wants to let go of this one in federal court. The judge will undoubtedly grant the motion.

It appeared during a hearing on the motion that she was likely to lose. She may simply be trying to avoid a loss. In any event, this case has now collapsed. 

The claim was that the county was improperly screening mail ballots before Election Day and giving voters a chance to fix any errors that would render their ballots invalid.

French bulldog named Wilbur elected mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky

648d ago / 7:03 PM UTC
Wilbur, the dog mayor of Rabbit Hash, Ky.
Wilbur, the dog mayor of Rabbit Hash, Ky.Rob Stone Photography

The Kentucky hamlet of Rabbit Hash has a new mayor — Wilbur, a 6-month-old French bulldog.

"Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, has never had an actual person or human as a mayor," Amy Noland, Wilbur's human, told NBC News.

Noland said the tradition emerged in the late 1990s.

Read more here.

648d ago / 6:57 PM UTC

Here's why Pennsylvania's Allegheny County will continue counting ballots Friday

648d ago / 6:52 PM UTC

About 35,000 mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, which covers the Pittsburgh area, still need to be counted, and officials say they won’t be able to start doing so until Friday. 

A federal court ordered that the bulk of those ballots — 29,000 — couldn’t be handled or processed until 5 p.m. ET Friday, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said at a brief press conference Thursday. Those were replacement ballots sent to voters after a printing company that contracted with the county sent incorrect ballots to voters in October. Because voters were also sent the correct ballots, officials need to verify that the voters didn’t try to cast both. 

At 9 a.m. ET Friday, the election return board will be sworn in, which can’t happen until three days after Election Day across the state, and will begin going through the remaining uncounted mail-in ballots. That includes about 6,800 ballots that have other issues, such as those that were damaged in the mail or during opening or that did not have the required secrecy envelopes.

Another batch that will be looked at Friday is provisional ballots, which could amount to between 10,000 and 15,000 in number, Fitzgerald said.

Georgia's largest county finished processing absentee ballots, results coming soon

648d ago / 6:37 PM UTC

Around 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron said that officials there have finished processing absentee ballots.

As many as 7,000 vote tallies will be published later Thursday.

Fulton, where Atlanta is located, is the most populous county in Georgia. Biden currently leads there with 72.6 percent, though Trump is ahead in the state overall.

Judge denies Trump lawsuit in Michigan

648d ago / 6:31 PM UTC

A state court judge has denied a request from the Trump campaign which asked Michigan to stop counting absentee votes until an election inspector from each party was present at each county canvassing board and until surveillance video was available of each ballot box. 

She said the Trump campaign failed to offer solid evidence that any laws were being violated.

Judge dismisses Trump-GOP lawsuit in Georgia

648d ago / 6:28 PM UTC

A state court judge in Georgia has dismissed a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Trump campaign and the Georgia Republican Party, which claimed that late-arriving mail ballots were being mixed in with ballots that arrived on time.  The lawsuit included a claim from an observer who thought he saw evidence of such mixing. 

The judge said Thursday there was no evidence that the ballots seen by the observer were actually received after the cutoff for mail ballots.

“There is no evidence that the Chatham County Board of Elections or the Chatham County Board of Registrars has failed to comply with the law,” the judge said.

Analysis: Big jump for Biden in Philadelphia suburbs

648d ago / 6:04 PM UTC

If Joe Biden comes back in Pennsylvania, he will have the suburbs of Philadelphia to thank for a shift in his direction.

In Chester County, which runs south toward Biden's Wilmington, Delaware, home, and west of Philadelphia toward Lancaster, Biden's share of the vote is 5.6 percentage points higher than Hillary Clinton's at 57.5 percent.

Already, with 95 percent reporting, he has about 36,000 more votes out of Chester than Clinton did. Trump's share of the vote is down a little bit, about 1.5 percentage points.

The lack of third-party candidates this cycle may account for the differences in Biden’s increased share and Trump's fall: In 2016, the major parties received about 94.5 percent of the vote in Chester. This time, they are at 98.5 percent combined.

Likewise, in neighboring Montgomery County, which runs west-northwest of the city, Biden’s share of the vote is 4.1 percentage points higher than Clinton’s at 62.5 percent, while Trump’s is down six-tenths of a percentage point from 2016. Biden’s raw vote total is 57,000 votes higher than Clinton’s.

Trump campaign announces Nevada suit, refuses to offer evidence

648d ago / 5:50 PM UTC

The Trump campaign said Thursday that it is filing a lawsuit in federal court in Nevada on Thursday, asking the judge to stop counting ballots due to "thousands" of illegal ballots.

Richard Grenell, former acting director of National Intelligence, addressed reporters at a press conference, claiming that the campaign was not being allowed to observe the process.

"Ballots are not automatically legal votes until they are checked and we are not being allowed to check," Grenell said. 

It is election officials, not campaigns, that verify voters' ballots. Both Republican and Democratic poll watchers are observing ballot counting in Nevada.

MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff pressed Grenell for evidence. Watch what happened next.

Biden's lead over Trump in Nevada up to nearly 12,000 votes

648d ago / 5:37 PM UTC

Joe Biden’s lead over President Trump in the pivotal battleground state of Nevada grew to nearly 12,000 votes Thursday afternoon, as votes continued to be counted in Clark County.

As of 12:30 p.m. ET, Biden led Trump in Nevada 603,807 votes to 592,020, or by a margin of 11,787 votes, according to NBC News’ Decision Desk. Eighty-eight percent of the vote in Nevada has been counted, according to NBC News' Decision Desk. Nevada and its six Electoral College votes remained too close to call as of 12:30 p.m. ET.

Biden’s expanded lead — earlier in the day he’d led Trump by fewer than 8,000 votes — came as Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, continued to count ballots. 

Biden camp increasingly optimistic: 'Our data shows that Joe Biden will be the next president'

648d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Biden's campaign on Thursday again predicted he would prevail, saying the vote counts in Nevada and Pennsylvania would put him past the finish line.

“Our data shows that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said Thursday during a virtual briefing with reporters. She added that the continued counting of votes in key battlegrounds “is going to show our path to victory.”

In Nevada, where Biden is currently leading Trump by about 8,000 votes, with 86 percent of the vote in, O’Malley Dillon said she expected counting “to be finished and results to be announced” Thursday.

In Pennsylvania, she said, Biden would win by a “sizable number of votes."

She called Georgia a “true toss-up” but said that Biden had been “cutting into” Trump’s lead and that the state now “leans to the vice president.”

Above all, O’Malley Dillon said supporters need to “stay patient” and “stay calm.”

“The counting is happening. It’s going to take time,” she said. 

Campaign adviser Bob Bauer said the multiple lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign in numerous states were all “meritless” and designed “to create an opportunity for them to message falsely about what is happening in the election process.”

He added that the suits are “doomed to fail.”

648d ago / 4:58 PM UTC

Georgia official expects to finish counting votes Thursday

648d ago / 4:14 PM UTC

Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer of the Georgia secretary of state’s office, told reporters at a Thursday morning press conference that he thinks his state will finish counting ballots by the end of the day.

“We anticipate getting through this process today,” he said at the state capitol in Atlanta. 

The state has about 61,000 uncounted ballots. Sterling attributed the ballot counting delays to some county staffers accidentally forgetting to press an upload button to the system. 

“Fast is great. We appreciate fast. We more appreciate accuracy,” he said, adding that election officials "are not involved in voter fraud; these people are not involved in voter suppression." 

Pa. lieutenant governor predicts Biden will win state's 20 electoral votes

648d ago / 3:46 PM UTC

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said that his state’s ballot-counting process is “drawing to a close” and believes that the outstanding ballots will deliver the state's 20 electoral votes to Joe Biden.

As of Thursday morning, Pennsylvania had about 768,000 ballots remaining that needed to be counted, which Fetterman said in an interview on MSNBC would be enough to "probably deliver our Commonwealth to the [former] vice president at this point, based on previous modeling of how those ballots have been performing with respect to, whether it's for the [former] vice president, or the president.”

While Fetterman declined to predict when he believes his state would finish counting, he indicated that it was possible it would be done by Thursday evening.

“Things are drawing to a close,” said Fetterman, who reiterated that the outstanding ballots in his state will be favorable to Biden’s chances to carry Pennsylvania, which Trump won in 2016.

Asked about any irregularities from the election in his state, he said it’s been “incredibly smooth” and suggested that the only issue has been the lawsuits the Trump campaign is mounting.

“You have the Trump campaign showing up on our corner in Philadelphia like some sad carnival barker, making outlandish claims,” he said. “That's the only problem.”

Democrat Mark Kelly claims victory in Arizona Senate race

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648d ago / 3:30 PM UTC

Democrat Mark Kelly has claimed victory against Republican Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona, which would give Democrats a badly needed pickup in the Senate if the vote returns bear out that result.

"I am deeply honored that Arizonans have trusted me to be their next United States Senator and to serve in this seat once held by Senator John McCain," Kelly said in a series of tweets Wednesday night.

"We woke up today still facing a pandemic, a struggling economy, and deep division in our country," he wrote. "We need to slow the spread of the virus, get our economy back on track, and defend health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And I know that together, we can."

McSally has not conceded the race, and NBC News is characterizing the race as too early to call, with Kelly leading.

A win would give the state two Democratic senators, Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who was elected in 2018. Sinema congratulated Kelly in a tweeted statement Wednesday. "I am confident Mark will uphold the Arizona values of seeking common ground and putting country above party," she wrote. 

Kelly, 56, is a former NASA astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived being shot in the head in 2011 at a constituent event. The couple founded the Giffords Foundation, which supports gun control laws around the country.

On bikes, in cars and on foot, 'Count Every Vote' protesters rally near White House

648d ago / 3:00 PM UTC
Image: People gather after Election Day in Washington
A cyclist wears a "Count Every Vote" banner near the White House on Thursday.Hannah McKay / Reuters
A driver holds a "Count the Votes" sign near the White House on Nov. 5, 2020.
A driver holds a "Count the Votes" sign near the White House on Thursday.Hannah McKay / Reuters

62,000 outstanding ballots in Georgia

648d ago / 2:43 PM UTC
Image:
An election worker examines a ballot Wednesday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.Brynn Anderson / AP

There are 62,000 outstanding votes in Georgia, the secretary of state’s office told NBC News on Thursday.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is holding a press conference later Thursday morning.

This race is still too close to call.

648d ago / 2:34 PM UTC

FIRST READ: Is it time to rethink how we conduct and cover our presidential contests?

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648d ago / 2:21 PM UTC
Image: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Biden speaks about 2020 the presidential election in Wilmington, Delaware
Joe Biden speaks Wednesday in Wilmington, Del.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

With Joe Biden on the cusp of 270 electoral votes, it’s time to discuss the political institutions and instruments that the 2020 cycle broke — or demonstrated once again that they were already broken.

  • The Iowa caucuses. (Remember that botched count?)
  • The supposed importance of the first three nominating contests (Biden lost them all, but he seems headed to the White House).
  • The polls (especially of the state battlegrounds).
  • The exit polls (they again were a mess).
  • All of the Twitter pundits (who didn’t necessarily reflect the views of Democratic primary voters), plus all of the online misinformation.
  • And the Commission on Presidential Debates. (Remember when Trump pulled out of the second debate?)
  • (There’s also an Electoral College system that doesn’t exactly match the popular vote, but that can only change via a constitutional amendment).

All of these institutions and instruments were created in the 20th century — except Twitter, of course — and they became essential parts to how America practices politics. But they no longer seem fit for our modern times.

Get more of First Read.

With all eyes on Philadelphia, a calming livestream looks inside the process

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648d ago / 2:11 PM UTC

It's coming down to the wire in Pennsylvania, with votes cast in an around Philadelphia key to the election outcome. 

So what's it like on the inside where the votes are being processed? The Philadelphia City Commissioners Office has a surprisingly zen livestream offering a look inside.

Trump's gains among Latino voters shouldn't come as a surprise. Here's why.

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648d ago / 1:58 PM UTC
Image:
Mirna Garcia, 63, holds the flag of Puerto Rico as she awaits election results with other supporters of President Donald Trump outside Versailles Cuban Cuisine on Election Night in Miami.Sam Navarro / for NBC News

SAN ANTONIO — Robert Gonzalez hoped to help Donald Trump get to the White House by waving a large Trump-Pence flag outside a polling site Tuesday. This predominantly Latino city backed Joe Biden, but Trump won the state.

"He's not a career politician," Gonzalez said of Trump. He was saddened that businesses in the Riverwalk downtown — a heavy tourist area — had been boarded up because of the pandemic. Trump would bring economic recovery, he said.

As Americans woke up Wednesday to a still-undecided presidential race, some were stunned by Trump's gains among Latino voters in the battleground states of Texas and Florida, which he won. In Texas, 41 percent to 47 percent of voters backed Trump in several heavily Hispanic border counties in the Rio Grande Valley region, a Democratic stronghold. In Florida, Trump won 45 percent of the vote, an 11-point improvement on his 2016 performance.

But the diverse Latino electorate has a record of backing Republicans in some parts of the country, with some segments commonly identifying with Republican messages about the economy and social and political issues.

Read the story.

Explore the potential paths to 270 as the campaigns await final battleground tallies

648d ago / 12:05 PM UTC

The 2020 campaign is down to the last six states. The outcomes in these states will determine which candidate is elected president. Explore the potential remaining paths to the White House with our Road to 270 map

Use NBC News' interactive Road to 270 map to chart what paths remain to the presidency for each candidate.

An Electoral College map of the United States

Why Texas remains a Republican stronghold

648d ago / 11:35 AM UTC
Image: Headline
People react during an election watch party at Axelrad Beer Garden in Houston.Annie Mulligan / for NBC News

HOUSTON — As polls closed in Texas on Tuesday night, dozens of young liberals crowded onto the patio of a bar in Houston's eclectic Midtown neighborhood, hoping to see history being made.

For weeks, polls showed an unusually tight presidential race in Texas, raising the possibility that Joe Biden might become the first Democrat to win the state since 1976. At Axelrad Beer Garden, voters said they saw the record-setting turnout in left-leaning Harris County as a reason for hope.

"I'm trying not to set my expectations high, so if somehow we flip that will be an exciting surprise," Serma Malik, 36, said.

Then the results started coming in, and the hope faded.

Read more here.

648d ago / 11:35 AM UTC

648d ago / 11:33 AM UTC

Analysis: Trump thinks he's losing. Just listen to him.

648d ago / 11:16 AM UTC

President Trump sounds like a man who knows he's losing, even though it will take time to sort out the final vote counts in key electoral battlegrounds.

Speaking from the White House early Wednesday morning, Trump falsely declared that he was winning. And then he said the election is "a fraud on the American public" and an "embarrassment to our country." In case it wasn't obvious that he is desperately worried, he said he wants state officials to stop counting ballots midstream.

Oh, and he vowed to sue to overturn the results, despite calling himself the winner.

His speech Wednesday will surely be remembered as a low point for both the concept of democracy and the practice of republicanism. For the moment, Trump's tack represents two significant developments in the purgatory-is-hell story of the 2020 election.

Read more here.

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

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648d ago / 11:15 AM UTC

After the election drew to a close, several battleground states were left counting mail-in ballots which were submitted in record numbers.

Vote counting in Michigan has been challenged by protesters seeking to stop the count.

Track the vote count progress here. This graphic will update with the latest numbers.

Trump's high-stakes, swing-state legal blitz: Where his campaign says it's suing, and why

648d ago / 11:14 AM UTC

Trump, speaking from the White House around 2:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, made it clear he'd fight in court to aid his re-election, falsely claiming he had already won though no winner had been declared and while millions of ballots were still being counted.

Here’s a breakdown of where Trump and other Republicans are suing, and to what end.