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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

In 2 a.m. tweets, Trump shares false and misleading information

The president posted a series of tweets just after 2 a.m., pushing similarly misleading or false claims that he spread during a brief appearance at the White House on Thursday evening.

The president again cast doubt on the election process and expressed hope that the Supreme Court would invalidate votes that are being counted.

Some Republicans have distanced themselves from the president's attacks on the electoral system, while others have echoed his rhetoric.

NBC News' Jane Timm fact-checked some of the president's earlier claims. Check those here.


Trump told one falsehood after another about the presidential race. Here are the facts.

President Donald Trump, who had not spoken publicly since an early Wednesday morning address, delivered remarks Thursday evening about the state of the still-undecided presidential election that were largely false.

Click here for what Trump said from the White House, and the facts. 

Mary Trump calls her uncle, the president, 'desperate'

Dartunorro Clark

Mary Trump, the president's niece, called him "desperate" and said he is "flailing" as the prospect of a Biden presidency inches closer.

"The damage he just did is incalculable," she told MSNBC in a Thursday night interview after he made baseless claims of fraud in the election and falsely declared victory in public remarks. "The public statements are an indication of how bad things are privately."

She said Republicans, many of whom have been reluctant to directly criticize the president, can only reign him in.

"Donald has never been in this place before where there's nobody to bail him out," she said. "He's flailing."

There has been record turnout in the 2020 election. Biden has received more than 73 million votes, the most of any candidate in American history. At roughly 70 million votes, Trump is in second place. But Mary Trump said her uncle will see it as a direct repudiation of him as Republicans gain House seats and may hold on to their Senate majority.


'This is getting insane': Republicans push back against Trump's false election claims

Republican lawmakers and officials are pushing back after President Donald Trump Thursday night delivered a series of false claims about the presidential election, though many did not mention him by name.

Shortly after Trump at a news conference made baseless claims about massive voter fraud in Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in a statement Thursday that once the state's final election count is "reached and certified, all parties involved must accept the outcome of the election regardless of whether they won or lost."

The harshest pushback came from retiring Texas Rep. Will Hurd.

"A sitting president undermining our political process & questioning the legality of the voices of countless Americans without evidence is not only dangerous & wrong, it undermines the very foundation this nation was built upon," he said in a tweet. "Every American should have his or her vote counted."

Click here for the full story.

The latest in Trump's legal blitz

While Trump's Nevada lawsuit hasn't come yet, the Trump campaign did file another suit in Pennsylvania with the Republican National Committee, arguing that some 600 ballots were being illegally counted in Montgomery County. 

Read more about the Trump legal battle here.

Analysis: A higher share of Michigan and Wisconsin voters went for Trump. He lost the states anyway.

In two of the most hotly contested states in the country, Michigan and Wisconsin, President Trump lost despite winning a higher percentage of the vote than he did in 2016.

How can that happen?

Trump won 47.22 percent of the vote in Wisconsin in 2016. Hillary Clinton won 46.45 percent, and third party candidates combined with write-ins to account for about 6 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, with about 28,000 votes left to be counted, Trump had 48.8 percent of the vote. But Biden had 49.4 percent.

There was a similar dynamic in Michigan. Trump won 47.25 percent there in 2016, compared to Clinton's 47.03 percent. It was the closest finish in a state he won. In this year's election, he took 47.9 percent of Michigan votes. Biden won 50.5 percent.

Arizona AG: No issues with Sharpie voting

The Arizona attorney general says they don’t believe there were any issues with the use of Sharpies to mark ballots in Maricopa County.

In a statement, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said, “based on correspondence and conversations with Maricopa County officials, we are now confident that the use of Sharpie markers did not result in disenfranchisement for Arizona voters.”

He added, “we appreciate the county’s prompt insight and assurances to address public concerns.”

About the Nevada GOP's 'criminal referral'

While Republicans in Nevada have yet to file the lawsuit they promised earlier Thursday, the Nevada Republican Party did tweet the following:

“Our lawyers just sent a criminal referral to AG Barr regarding at least 3,062 instances of voter fraud. We expect that number to grow substantially. Thousands of individuals have been identified who appear to have violated the law by casting ballots after they moved from NV.”

A couple of points:

First, It is not necessarily illegal for someone who lives out of state to vote in Nevada. Many states allow people who move way to continue to vote in their home states, provided they intend to return.

Examples might include someone who moves to take a short-term job, or attend school, or care for a relative, or for military service. They change their address to continue receiving mail, and maybe they even sell their home. But if they intend to return, they can still vote in their home state — as long as they don’t also vote in the place where they’re currently living. 

Second, don’t be dazzled by the phrase “criminal referral.” It just means they sent a letter. Anyone can say they think a crime has been committed and call it a criminal referral.

And finally, this appears to be based simply on comparing the list of general election voters to change of address records. However, to be “voter fraud,” which is a crime, voters would have to know they were not eligible to vote but did so anyway. In other words, there has to be an intent to commit a crime.  

Twitter bans Steve Bannon after call for beheadings; YouTube removes video

Twitter banned an account associated with Steve Bannon on Thursday and YouTube removed one of his videos after the former Trump adviser called for the beheadings of two federal officials. 

Bannon, in a video for his podcast recording, had said he wanted to behead FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert.

Bannon said he would “put the heads on pikes” as a “warning to federal bureaucrats,” referencing Tudor-era England. 

“The @WarRoomPandemic account has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules, specifically our policy on the glorification of violence,” Twitter said in a statement. The platform has an established policy against the glorification of violence. 

YouTube said it removed the video and gave the account a “strike” to count against a three-strikes policy that the company has before terminating an account. A strike temporarily disables uploading for at least a week, YouTube said.

“We’ve removed this video for violating our policy against inciting violence. We will continue to be vigilant as we enforce our policies in the post-election period,” YouTube spokesperson Alex Joseph said in a statement. 

Trump's lead shrinking in Georgia and Pennsylvania, both still too close to call

Dartunorro Clark

NBC News rates the presidential races in Georgia and Pennsylvania as too close to call, but as votes continue to be counted the difference between the candidates in both states is shrinking. In the Peach State alone, under 4,000 votes currently separate the two.

As of 7 p.m., Trump and Biden are separated by one-tenth of a percentage point — 49.4 percent and 49.3 percent, respectively — with 99 percent of the vote reported. Roughly, 3,600 votes put Trump in the lead. As of 7:15 p.m., 18,936 votes are left to count in the state, according to the secretary of state. 

In Pennsylvania, the candidates are separated by roughly one percentage point - 49.8 percent for Trump and 48.9 for Biden — with 94 percent of the vote in. Pennsylvania's secretary of state told reporters on Thursday that the majority of the votes there could be completed by Friday. There are several hundred thousand ballots need to be counted, which are largely mail-in ballots. 

In North Carolina, Trump leads by a bit over a percentage point with 95 percent of the vote in. In Arizona, Biden leads by two percentage points with 87 percent of the vote in. And in Nevada, Biden leads by just under a percentage point with 89 percent of the vote tallied.

Trump suit in Philadelphia ends with agreement in court

A federal judge in Philadelphia today determined that vote observers for President Trump and former Vice President Biden are entitled to 60 observers each inside the room where votes are being counted in that city, settling for now, a challenge brought by the Trump campaign. 

The decision by Judge Paul Diamond will have no impact on the votes already counted or to be counted and has not resulted in the delay of votes being counted.

An attorney for the Trump campaign argued that one campaign observer was not allowed in saying he was left to “twiddle his thumbs” before it became clear he would not be allowed in.

The judge wanted to know if the Trump campaign was allowed in the room even if one particular person wasn’t. Trump’s attorney waffled and the judge pressed him, “I am asking you as a member of the bar of this court are people representing  the Donald J. Trump for President in that room?”

Marcus replied, “yes."

The dispute and lawsuit from the Trump campaign is independent of the suit pending before state court that makes some similar arguments and is pending before the court.

Judge orders further sweeps of Postal Service facilities for undelivered ballots

A federal judge ordered the Postal Service on Thursday to continue its sweep of mail facilities to check for undelivered ballots in states that have extended vote delivery deadlines, such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., ordered the sweeps to continue until the end of the day Friday to ensure that all the mailed ballots are counted. The order, the result of a lawsuit brought by voter advocacy groups, is intended to mitigate concerns that a number of ballots in the Postal Service's care potentially were not delivered.

Concern was raised Wednesday about ballots that were scanned into the Postal Service system but did not get outgoing scans. The agency said that in an attempt to deliver the ballots more quickly, it bypassed the outgoing delivery scan in some cases.

Mail employees would often pull the ballots from being processed so they could deliver them directly to boards of elections.

Click here for the full story.

N.C. Republicans confident in wins by Trump and Tillis when count is finished

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Jordan Jackson

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Jordan Jackson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Republicans in this still-undecided state said Thursday they are confident that President Donald Trump and Sen. Thom Tillis will win re-election after all the outstanding ballots are counted and processed. 

“We know that Donald Trump carried North Carolina,” Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, said at a news conference Thursday evening. 

The North Carolina State board of Elections says that as many as 157,000 potential ballots still need to be tabulated but won’t be reported out until November 12. 

Trump currently leads former Vice President Joe Biden by more than 76,000 votes. Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is leading Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham by 98,000 votes. 

Read the full story

Georgia secretary of state indicates vote counting nearing completion

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Thursday evening that the state have just over 36,000 ballots left to count. 

A statement on his office's website said that as of 5:45 p.m. ET, there are approximately 36,331 ballots still outstanding.

“Officials in numerous counties are continuing to count ballots, with strong security protocols in place to protect the integrity of our election,” Raffensperger said, adding "It’s important to act quickly, but it’s more important to get it right."

The race in Georgia is tight - with 98 percent of the vote in, President Donald Trump's lead over Joe Biden has shrunk to just 9,000 votes. Sen. David Perdue, R. Ga., also fell just under the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff election with Democrat Jon Ossoff after hovering over it for most of Wednesday and Thursday. NBC News has not called either race. 

“We’re well aware that with a close presidential election and the possibility of runoffs in some elections that the eyes of the state and the nation are upon Georgia at this time,” Raffensperger said.

He's scheduled to have a press conference Friday at 10:30 am ET.

'Home stretch': Penn. secretary of state says majority of ballots to be counted by Friday

Dartunorro Clark

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters during a press conference Thursday evening that counties are working diligently to count votes in the crucial battleground state and expects the overwhelming majority to be processed by Friday. 

Boockvar called this the “home stretch” for the counting of ballots.  She emphasized that they’re encouraging all 67 counties to continue updating their results as frequently as possible. She noted, however, that it’s a close race — signaling we may not know the results tonight, which she suggested earlier. 

NBC News rates the race as too close to call, with Trump’s lead shrinking as counting continues. The president has 50 percent of the vote and Biden has 48.8, with 96 percent of the vote in and less than 80,000 votes separating the candidates.

Los Angeles County officials debunk viral video questioning ballot collection

Los Angeles County officials responded Thursday to a viral video, now viewed about 1.2 million times on Twitter, that fueled questions about ballot collection in the Reseda neighborhood.

The video, which surfaced online Wednesday and has been posted by multiple social media users, is one example of the varied examples of misinformation that have been debunked by government officials in recent days. 

“There were no missed ballots or missed Drop Boxes,” a spokesperson for the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office told NBC News in an email Thursday. “All Vote by Mail Drop Boxes were closed and locked at 8 PM on Election Day and then collected the following day – as was scheduled. The ballots are valid ballots and will be processed and counted in our Official Election Canvass."

The spokesperson also confirmed that the individuals shown in the video collecting ballots are members of their staff.

Trump to speak shortly

Freddie Tunnard

President Trump is expected to give remarks at 6:30 p.m. ET in the White House.

The Russians have no need to spread misinformation. Trump and his allies are doing it for them

In September, U.S. intelligence officials warned that because of the pandemic, it might take a few days for the results of the presidential election to emerge — and that foreign adversaries might exploit the delay to spread false information intended to undermine confidence in the vote.

But instead of doing that, American officials and private experts say, the Russians and other foreign influencers have appeared content to report on the claims — made with no evidence — by President Trump and his allies that the election is being “stolen” from them.

“US President Donald Trump said that every vote that came in after Election Day will not be counted,” reported Sputnik, an English-language Russian government website, after Trump tweeted “Stop the count,” Thursday morning.

“Trump calls results ‘big WIN’ & accuses opponents of ‘trying to STEAL’ election, gets ‘misleading’ label from Twitter,” RT, another Russian media operation, said Wednesday.

“Nothing that Russia or Iran or China could say is anywhere near as wild as what the president is saying,” Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who tracks foreign disinformation, said. “We cannot say this time that Russia, Iran or China interfered in a significant way. They don’t need to write fake news this time — we’re making plenty of fake news of our own.”

Read the story.

Georgia to conduct its first 'risk limiting audit' before certifying election results

Another wrinkle to the closely watched tabulation in Georgia: Before certifying results, Georgia election officials, under a new state law, will begin Friday what they’re calling a risk-limiting audit to ensure the votes were accurately counted.

Under a risk-limiting audit (RLA), a statistically meaningful sample of ballots are examined by hand to see whether the declared winner truly won. The audit is mathematically designed to catch anomalies that would arise from misconfigured machines, procedural errors or intentional attack.

But in a lawsuit filed by election technology activists, University of California, Berkeley, statistics professor Philip Stark, who helped pioneer the concept of RLAs, said in an affidavit the state’s procedures are more of a “pilot” than a true RLA. That’s because of lax chain of custody procedures, the use of “duplicated” rather than original ballots, and other issues, he told NBC News in an email.

In addition, Georgia is using new electronic ballot marking devices that print out paper records rather than the hand-marked paper ballots necessary for the high quality audit trail, he said.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday the state’s review will produce “over 90 percent confidence level” in the results and certification will be reached by Nov. 13.

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

Chances are a recount won't make a difference in a statewide election.

In the past 50 years, few recounts have led to a change in the winner. And in the handful of still-uncalled 2020 battleground states, there has not been a flip following a recount in at least the last two decades.

The Trump campaign, which has initiated a legal blitz in swing states, already announced it will request a recount in Wisconsin, where President Donald Trump trails 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by about 20,000 votes. Wisconsin law allows for candidates to request a recount if the margin in the race is within 1 percent.

If that recount is at all similar to past Wisconsin recounts, the current vote deficit would be a mountain to overcome.

Read more here.

House Democrats' tensions flare on post-election call

Leigh Ann Caldwell

The first House Democratic conference call since Tuesday's election turned contentious Thursday, with moderates expressing frustration and anger over the strategy amid the party's loss of several seats. 

Several members complained about the liberal push to defund the police — something Democratic leadership has not supported — and embrace of what critics of the party describe as socialist policy proposals, according to two people on the call. 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., was one of the members who raised such concerns. She barely won her race – by about 5,000 votes - in a conservative district. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told the caucus that the election results ultimately were good for Democrats because although they did not win every race, they had held the House and appear likely to win the White House. 

But one lawmaker said of Pelosi’s take, “That’s B.S.”

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., would not give details about the call, but he was clearly frustrated about the party's election performance.

“My dad used to tell me, ‘You gotta turn chicken s--- into chicken salad.’ And that’s exactly what I intend to work towards,” he said.

Biden again predicts 2020 win: We 'will be declared the winners'

Joe Biden on Thursday again expressed confidence that he would win the 2020 race after all votes are counted.

“We continue to feel, the senator and I continue to feel very good where things stand,” Biden said Thursday about the 2020 race during brief remarks alongside his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware.

“We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Sen. Harris and I will be declared the winners,” Biden added. He delivered similar remarks Wednesday.


Nodding to the fact that votes were still being counted in several key battleground states nearly 48 hours after polls closed, Biden said “democracy is sometimes messy” and “sometimes requires a little patience.”

He reiterated his call that “each ballot must be counted,” urging supporters to “stay calm.”

“The process is working,” he said. 

Prior to speaking, Biden received briefings on the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy.

Trump campaign files federal lawsuit seeking to stop count in Philadelphia

The Trump campaign is asking a federal judge to stop the vote count in Philadelphia.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon, the campaign says the Philadelphia County Board of Elections is not yet obeying a state appeals court order to let observers get closer to the counting tables.

“It has been studying the order for over an hour and a half, while counting continues with no Republicans present," the suit said.

The campaign said this violates their right to due process and seek an emergency injunction to stop the count until Republican observers are allowed better access.

Pro-Trump operatives coordinated viral #StopTheSteal events. Facebook shut them down.

In 2019, a group of right-wing political operatives promoted a fundraising website to build a section of border wall, and the site later became the subject of a money-laundering investigation. Now, those same operatives are behind a Facebook group, which went viral Thursday, dedicated to delegitimizing election results that don't favor President Trump.

On Thursday afternoon, Facebook took down the page, called “Stop The Steal.”

As members of the group repeatedly called for violence and a civil war, leading to turmoil inside Facebook, the group expanded at a rapid pace Thursday morning, topping out at about 350,000 profiles. The group pointed users to organized events, including one in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday afternoon with a “#StopTheSteal” branding.

Read the full story here.

'Clown show': Trumpworld tries to project optimism despite concerns about messaging


Hallie Jackson

Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

The Trump campaign is publicly trying to project optimism about the president’s path forward, but it’s very narrow and relies on holding a lead in one state where Joe Biden is closing the gap — Pennsylvania — and cutting into the lead Biden holds in another state — Arizona. Still, some close to the campaign think there’s a chance — not a big one, but a chance. As one Trump adviser put it, "He has to get lucky everywhere, but this race isn’t over." Another source familiar, while not confident, pointed out the door isn’t shut entirely: "Is it possible? Sure it is." 

Aides wanted to convince Trump to send a "better" tweet on the election. That’s why he tweeted Thursday to "stop the fraud" after "stop the count." The aides think fraud is a better message and are trying to get him to stick to it, underscoring that they are struggling with their messaging. There’s also some discomfort from those in the Trump orbit about how the legal strategy’s unfolding, with one person close to the White House calling the legal effort a "clown show." 

That legal blitz is falling apart in key states, with judges tossing out lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan, in both instances because of the lack of evidence to back up the Trump campaign’s claims. 

The president, working for part of the day out of the Oval Office, has not made any appearances on camera since his 2:30 a.m. remarks in the East Room the night of the election. But sources indicate he’s been very engaged with updates on the vote count from his team — "all in." 

If Biden does end hitting the 270 threshold, don’t expect an immediate concession — at least not until some of the legal fights shake out: "We’re going to fight until the very end. To the death. Until the last second."

Georgia election official says state still has more than 47,000 ballots to count

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer of the Georgia secretary of state’s office, appeared less confident Thursday afternoon that his state would quickly wrap up the counting of votes. 

As of 3 p.m. ET, he said that there were 47,277 ballots outstanding that needed to be counted. About 17,000 of those ballots are in Chatham County, where Savannah is located and where the process is moving slowly. Other counties that are still counting ballots include several in the Atlanta metro area. 

Sterling said Thursday afternoon that the state is using paper ballots for the first time in 20 years, the counting of which is "going to take time." When asked for a timeline on when Georgia might finish, he said, "done is a very relative term at this point" because so many races are so close across the state. 

Earlier in the day, when Georgia still had 61,000 uncounted ballots, Sterling told reporters at the state Capitol in Atlanta, “We anticipate getting through this process today."

Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says Trump could run in 2024 if he loses

Nicole Via y Rada

Trump's former chief of staff claimed Trump could run for president in the next election if he were to lose to Joe Biden this time around.

Mick Mulvaney, now the U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, said that the president could unite the country in 2024, in a webinar with the Institute of International and European Affairs.

Mulvaney told Michael Collins, director general of the institute, that 2024 would be the election that will "unite" the country after a "fork in the road." 

When asked about who he thinks would throw their hat in the race, Mulvaney said Trump.

"I’m telling you, absolutely, I would absolutely expect the president to stay involved in politics," he said. "I would absolutely put him on the shortlist of people who are likely to run in 2024. He doesn’t like losing."

Trump campaign presses legal challenges as count continues in swing states

Image: Former campaiCoreygn senior adviser Of U.S. president Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski uses a megaphone as supporters of U.S. president Donald Trump rally as votes continue to be counted following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Philadelphia
Corey Lewandowski, who was Donald Trump's campaign manager in 2016, rallies with Trump supporters as votes continue to be counted in Philadelphia on Nov. 5, 2020.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

President Donald Trump's campaign continued its legal blitz across key battleground states Thursday, homing in on Pennsylvania with state judges denying or dismissing lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan.

The race for the White House has come down to just a handful of states — particularly PennsylvaniaNevadaGeorgia and Arizona, which are all too close to call, according to NBC News. NBC News has projected that Joe Biden has won Michigan and is the apparent winner in Wisconsin, giving the former vice president a narrow lead over Trump. But both remain shy of the 270 delegates needed to win the White House, raising the stakes in the states that remain outstanding, particularly Pennsylvania, with its 20 Electoral College votes.

The president and his allies have repeatedly and falsely suggested that the ongoing count of eligible ballots is a sign of fraud. By Thursday, the president had simplified his message to calls for the regular process of counting ballots to stop entirely.

Read the story.

Photos: Both sides rally in Pennsylvania

Image: President Donald Trump's supporters protest in front of the Capitol building in Harrisburg
President Donald Trump's supporters protest in front of the Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa., on Thursday.Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters
Joe Biden's supporters dance as they protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Thursday.Kena Betancur / AFP - Getty Images

'Let the institutions of our democracy do their jobs,' Fed Chair Powell says about presidential election

Views Of The Federal Reserve As Markets Watch For Interest Rate Liftoff
The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve building in Washington.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Continued support from both monetary and fiscal policy” may be needed to overcome the current economic downturn, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday as the central bank wrapped up its two-day monetary policymaking meeting.

When asked by a reporter about the presidential election, Powell said, "I am very reluctant to comment on the election directly, indirectly or at all," before adding, "It is a good time to step back and let the institutions of our democracy do their jobs."

The Federal Open Market Committee voted to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged, holding at 0 to 0.25 percent.

While the Fed has a formidable set of policy tools it can deploy — and has already deployed — to support the economy, it cannot do the one thing economists say households and businesses really need: Offer direct income support, either in the form of stimulus checks or expanded unemployment insurance benefits.

Powell, along with other Fed officials, has urged Congress, in increasingly urgent tones, to come to an agreement and pass another fiscal stimulus package to keep the fragile economic recovery going as Covid-19 cases soar around the country.

Partial victory for Trump campaign in Pennsylvania case

In a tactical victory for the Trump campaign that will have no immediate effect on the vote count, a Pennsylvania appeals court has ordered special handling of mail-in ballots for which voters don’t supply missing proof of identification until next week.

Here’s the issue: The state election code requires those who vote by mail to provide proof of identification. If it’s missing, it can be provided later. The issue is, what’s the deadline? The secretary of state said it’s Nov. 12. The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit asking a court to rule that it’s actually Nov. 9.

The appeals court on Thursday ordered the state to set aside any mailed ballots for which missing voter identification information is supplied between those dates. Those ballots are not to be counted until the court resolves the issue. 

Missouri poll worker positive for Covid-19 still worked shift, died after Election Day

A Missouri elections supervisor who knew they tested positive for the coronavirus and still worked at a polling site on Election Day has died.

The unidentified election judge supervisor in St. Charles County tested positive for the virus on Oct. 30 and failed to isolate for the recommended two-week period, the county said on Thursday. It is unclear what caused the election worker’s death.

Instead of isolating as advised by the private lab that provided the test, the election supervisor worked at the Blanchette Park Memorial Hall polling site, where 1,858 voters cast their ballots. County officials do not believe the voters who came through the site would be considered close contacts with the supervisor but nine other election workers have been advised to get tested.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have hit record-breaking daily totals for two straight days. The country saw 104,429 new cases Wednesday, breaking the single-day record of 98,583 new cases set last week. There were 120,048 new cases Thursday.

Read more here.

Vote Watch: What worked on Election Day

NBC News

The NBC News Vote Watch team compiled some bullets on the successes surrounding the 2020 election. Here are some of them: 

  • Voter participation is at a record high, with more than 142 million votes counted as of Thursday morning. NBC News estimates this will climb to more than 160 million, a record for a presidential election.
  • More than 100 million ballots were cast during the early voting period, made possible by secretaries of state who ensured their citizens were able to vote safely during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 230,000 Americans.
  • Despite fears, the Department of Homeland Security was able to say on Election Day that "there doesn’t appear to be any violence anywhere." While we are monitoring isolated protests across the country, there is currently no widespread unrest. 
  • Voters respected one another, and there were very few credible reports of voter intimidation at the polls. Poll workers, including the thousands of young people trained to fill the shortage left by older workers sitting this one out due to Covid-19 concerns, have been called the "unsung heroes" of this process.
  • The polls closed on Election Day without any evidence of cyber manipulation by foreign governments or criminals. DHS credited the work of federal, state and local election officials who focused on protecting our elections over the past four years, part of a nationwide effort.
  • Social media wasn’t the problem many feared it would be. Despite all the worry about widespread hoaxes and false information, this was not the horror scenario some expected.
  • So far, ballot counting continues with no reports of significant fraud or systemic issues. On Election Day, machinery issues were limited and addressed. 
  • Despite multiple controversies, the Postal Service was able to get ballots where they needed to be and is currently not searching for any lost ballots.

Recount laws in key states in the presidential race

NBC News

Here are recount laws in key states as the presidential race comes down to the wire.

GOP seeks to withdraw Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, lawsuit

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

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.

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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

Charlie Gile

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

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

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

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

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

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'

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.”

Georgia official expects to finish counting votes Thursday

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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

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

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

Charlie Gile

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.

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


Mark Murray

Carrie Dann

Melissa Holzberg

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg
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

Petra Cahill

Jason Abbruzzese and Petra Cahill

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.

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

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

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.

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

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


Naitian Zhou

Ellie Frymire

Naitian Zhou, Elliott Ramos and Ellie Frymire

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

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.