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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

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

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

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

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.