Elections officials in several key states hurried to finish counting all outstanding votes as Americans could finally learn who won Tuesday's presidential election.
Joe Biden maintained his Electoral College lead over President Donald Trump, overtaking the president in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Trump, meanwhile, vowed to "pursue this process through every aspect of the law" Friday after offering a series of false claims about election integrity in defiant remarks from the White House the day before, and is mounting a legal blitz across several battleground states.
This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from Saturday November 7, 2020.
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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tests positive for Covid-19
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tested positive for Covid-19, a source familiar with the diagnosis told NBC News on Friday.
The news comes as the U.S. has recorded for the third day in a row of more than 100,000 new cases, breaking previous records.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19 after White House aide Hope Hicks was diagnosed last month, among other high-profile Republicans in the White House, Congress and the Trump campaign. Many, including the president, have since recovered.
Meadows, 61, was among those in attendance Wednesday morning hours after the polls closed for an election night party at the White House, where Trump falsely claimed that he had won the presidential election as millions of votes had yet to be counted and several battleground states were not called.
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Where is Mike Pence?
Vice President Mike Pence hasn’t been seen publicly for three days.
Pence, who heads the coronavirus task force and serves as president of the Senate, was not with the president in the briefing room Thursday night. Pence had nothing on his schedule for the last three days, and now, per his just-released schedule, has nothing for the weekend. He has not issued any official statements on Friday or posted on social media. His office has been silent when asked about his whereabouts. He has not chaired a task force meeting since October 20, while cases are breaking records across the country.
But a source familiar tells NBC News that Pence was pretty active at the White House today. Additionally, and separately, he was asked by campaign to talk with donors to raise money for the legal defense fund today which he did. NBC News previously reported that Pence was in the meetings over strategy and legal battles at President Trump's campaign headquarters in Virginia on Wednesday.
While Pence is making moves in his capacity as a loyalist to the president, there are also impressions that Pence is trying to stay out of the limelight. Politically, Pence appears to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He may not want to say anything to override the president’s message as he goes on a full-out assault of the electoral system as it does not produce results in his favor, and simultaneously has to protect his own path forward with potential aspirations for a White House run of his own in 2024.
Speaking after Trump in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Pence said, “The right to vote has been at the center of our democracy since the founding of this nation. We are going to protect the integrity of the vote. But I really believe with all of my heart with the extraordinary margins, Mr. President, that you've inspired in the states that you just described and the way that you launched this movement across the country to Make America Great Again, I truly do believe, as you do, that we are on the road to victory and we will Make America Great Again, again.”
Sen. Coons on what to expect from Joe Biden tonight
Sen. Chris Coons outlined what Joe Biden is expected to say in remarks to the nation Friday night.
“I think you will likely hear an update on the race in which he’ll convey his confidence in the system, his optimism about the ultimate outcome, and his determination to lead a responsible path forward rather than some pronouncement that might make us feel all a little bit better and go to sleep sooner," Coons said.
"He is respecting the process and making sure it plays out thoroughly,” Coons said.
The Delaware senator, who holds Biden’s former seat, also said that he does not expect a call from Pennsylvania today after texting with Sen. Bob Casey. But he said Casey predicted Biden would double the margin between him and Trump after more votes are tallied tomorrow.
Federal judge denies Republicans' bid challenging Nevada vote-counting
A federal judge has denied a legal bid by two Republican congressional campaigns that could have ground vote-counting in Clark County, Nevada to a halt.
The action — which was supported by the Trump campaign — mirrored a similar bid in state court charging the technology being used to perform signature matching in the state is unreliable and should not be used. The state court bid was rejected earlier in the week.
The Nevada Secretary of State's office urged the federal court judge, Andrew Gordon, to do the same deny the "extraordinary" request. "Voting is at the heart of Nevada’s government and evidence, rather than unsupported assertions, should be required to stop the counting of valid Nevada ballots," the office argued.
Gordon agreed and rejected the campaigns' motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the system from being used and demanding all the mail ballots in the county be rechecked manually, as well as changes to the state's vote-watching system.
Gordon found there was "little to no evidence" that the technology being used is a problem, and said, “I should not usurp that proper law of state legislatures and re-write state election laws.”
What are 'provisional ballots' and why it takes time to count them
Provisional ballots — used by voters if there's a question about their eligibility when they show up at the polls — are slowing the count of the presidential election three days after polls closed. And there could be enough provisional ballots to affect the race in some key states.
Such ballots are used only when a voter has an issue that needs to be resolved before their vote can be counted, so they take longer to process than regular ballots and can be subject to legal action and challenges.
They are a fallback when a voter can't immediately prove they're eligible to vote when they show up at the polls or their information doesn't match what's listed on voter rolls.
The voter may have moved, but their new address is not reflected on the voter roll in their new precinct. They may have forgotten to bring an ID in a state that requires one to vote. They may have changed their name or their name may be misspelled on the rolls. Or they may have been removed from the rolls by a glitch or regular purge of voters who haven't cast a ballot in a long time.
And especially relevant this year, in some states, if a voter requested an absentee ballot but decided for whatever reason to vote in person, they may have been required to bring their absentee ballot to the voting place, where they would then hand it over in exchange for a new in-person ballot. That's done to ensure they don't vote twice.
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Supreme Court Justice Alito weighs in on Pennsylvania mail-in ballot case
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito late Friday granted part of a request from Pennsylvania's state Republicans, who wanted an order regarding mail ballots that came in during the extended deadline.
He ordered county election officials to comply with a previous directive issued by the secretary of state to keep separate the mail ballots that arrived after Election Day but before Friday at 5 p.m. But he did not order the state to stop counting them.
He also ordered the state to file a response to the Republican request by 2 p.m. Saturday.
The state GOP told the court midday Friday that even though the secretary of state directed counties to separate out the ballots that arrived after Election Day but before Friday at 5 p.m., it was unclear whether all the counties were obeying that directive.
"The vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next President of the United States, and it is currently unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots," they told the justices.
They asked the Supreme Court to order the secretary to repeat her directive to keep the late ballots separate — and this time to add that they should not even be counted. Otherwise, the Republicans said, it might not be possible to remove those ballots from the count if the party later prevails on its argument that the deadline extension was illegal.
They argued that the state Supreme Court had no authority to extend the mail ballot deadline, and therefore any votes cast during the extended period should not be counted.
In Florida, Spanish-language misinformation embraces misleading Election Day claims
MIAMI — As Joe Biden inches closer to winning in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Spanish-language disinformation is intensifying among Florida Latinos claiming fraud and rigged elections.
A well-known former candidate for state office in Florida posted an impassioned video in Spanish on Facebook boosting the baseless claim that the election is being stolen from President Donald Trump. The video has since been reposted to Twitter, where it’s been viewed more than 116,000 times over the past two days.
“You have the historical authority to destroy the communists that are in the department of elections,” the man said, adding that it’s time to take to the streets to defend Trump.
The new wave of false claims comes after Democrats raised alarms in the run-up to the election about Spanish-language misinformation that had circulated among Latino voters in Florida. And while researchers said Election Day passed without evidence of major English-language misinformation campaigns on social media, they cautioned that the coming days and weeks would be challenging.
On Friday morning, a doctored photo was being passed around in WhatsApp groups, a popular app among Latinos in Florida, showing Biden leaning uncomfortably close behind the former president of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela, who herself was accused of electoral fraud in the South American country. Her image has been used in various Spanish-language misinformation memes about the outcome of the U.S. election on WhatsApp.
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U.S. breaks single-day record of over 100,000 Covid-19 cases for third day in a row
The U.S. has reported over 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day for the third day in a row, breaking the previous records, according to an NBC News tally.
There have been at least 122,365 new Covid-19 cases reported in the U.S. today, eclipsing yesterday's previous single-day record of 121,289 cases, according to an NBC News count.
As the election hangs in the balance, the country is still grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases.
Getting control of the virus was one of the top issues for a majority of voters in their vote for president — a reminder of the high stakes of the election as votes continue to be counted.
According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters, 61 percent said rising coronavirus cases were a significant factor in their vote — including a quarter who said the surge was the most important factor. Only 33 percent of voters said recent spikes in Covid-19 cases were not important to their vote for president.
Georgia poll worker forced into hiding while more Fulton County votes come in
The elections director of Georgia's most populous county said Friday he expects officials will upload their final 4,600 ballots before the end of the night — despite online trolls robbing him of the services of one of his fastest workers.
Fulton County elections director Richard Barron told reporters he expects the county's final 3,800 provisional ballots and over 800 overseas and military ballots will be added to the state's vote tally before midnight.
He added the work was being done without one of his most dependable employees. The man started getting threats after video of him throwing out a piece of paper went viral on Twitter and Facebook, where he was accused of being "corrupt" and throwing out ballots. Barron said the accusation was "undeniably false" — the worker had thrown out an instruction sheet a voter had mistakenly included with their ballot, which is a piece of paper that's much smaller than the 19-inch ballots.
He said the worker's name, address and even information about his car were circulating online by people accusing him of "fraud," forcing him into hiding.
Barron said he spoke to the worker and "I expressed my sorrow that all this had happened to him, simply for being an election worker."
While we wait... This is how the NBC News Decision Desk calls races
Here's how NBC News calls races on election night, the steps NBC News takes to verify results, and the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Early on election night, the NBC News Decision Desk uses exit poll data to determine whether uncompetitive races can be called. Most races are called based on analyses of precinct- and county-level vote returns.
The analyses also examine differences between early and Election Day votes. In close contests, a careful analysis of how much of the vote has not been counted is a crucial part of the process. No race is projected until the Decision Desk is at a minimum 99.5 percent confident of the winner.
How are votes counted? Data reporters across the country talk to local election officials and report raw vote results on a county-by-county basis from the time polls open until they close and long afterward. The data is supplemented with state and county vote computer feeds and websites, when available.
Advocates race to find Georgia voters to correct bad ballots
Advocates for both presidential candidates raced to find every person in Georgia who submitted a flawed ballot before time ran out Friday to fix the paperwork in a race that could be decided by the narrowest of margins.
Hours before the 5 p.m. deadline, Christin Clatterbuck and Sarah Meng joined about 20 other volunteers who planned to visit addresses in suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County in search of voters whose ballots were initially rejected but could be fixed with a signature or an ID.
Cam Ashling, a Democratic activist who organized the small effort, gave instructions and a pep talk. “Never has it ever been more true than now that every vote counts," she shouted beside a pickup truck with a bed full of snacks, water and a big bottle of hand sanitizer.
Clatterbuck and Meng drove through suburban neighborhoods in their small SUV. They walked past rose bushes to knock on the door of a home in Lilburn where they were looking for a 19-year-old voter. Her dad answered and promised to call her at college.
Other problem ballots were cast by people not listed on the voter rolls who will need to explain why. They must correct, or “cure,” their ballots by the deadline for the votes to count.
Read more here.
ADL asks Pelosi, McCarthy to keep QAnon-backing lawmakers off committees
WASHINGTON — The Anti-Defamation League is asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to block committee assignments for new members who have supported the far-right QAnon conspiracy movement.
The civil rights group's CEO and national director, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, sent the House leaders a letter urging them "to take note of any members of the 117th Congress who have endorsed, given credence to or intentionally promoted QAnon content, to remove them from the Democratic Caucus and Republican Conference, and to decline to assign them to Congressional committees."
While the letter, obtained by NBC news and dated to last week, didn't name names, Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has attracted national attention for having promoted QAnon content.
A spokesman for McCarthy, who as caucus leader oversees Republican committee assignments, didn't immediately respond to an email asking if Greene will be permitted on panels.
The Democratic-led House voted in October to condemn QAnon in a resolution which noted that "many QAnon followers express anti-Semitic views." FBI agents have linked the extremist movement to domestic terrorism threats. Greenblatt said barring QAnon's promoters from committees would send the right message.
"Such a decisive and meaningful action will make clear that the U.S. House of Representatives will not allow division to take hold under the banner of such conspiratorial belief systems," he wrote. "Silence and inaction in the face of such unacceptable conduct allows the conspiracy to grow unchallenged."
Republicans battle on Twitter over support for Trump's baseless election fraud claims
GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas and incoming GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had a war of words on Twitter Friday over supporting Trump's baseless claims of fraud and falsely declaring victory.
The Republican infighting started when Greene, a Georgia businesswoman who has expressed support for the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon and has been criticized for a series of racist comments, suggested Crenshaw was giving up and criticized him for having a "loser mindset" after he said in a tweet "we must accept the final results when it is over."
Crenshaw then pushed back against Greene, who also hinted at retribution for Republicans who aren't supporting the president, questioning whether she is "just purposely lying so you can talk tough?"
"No one said give up. I literally said investigate every irregularity and use the courts. You’re a member of Congress now, Marjorie. Start acting like one," he tweeted.
NBC News projected that Greene, a staunch Trump supporter, won her House race for Georgia's 14th Congressional District on Tuesday. Crenshaw, also a loyal Trump supporter, won re-election to represent Texas' 2nd Congressional District.
Photo: Naked Cowboy exchanges words with Biden supporter in N.Y.C.'s Times Square
GOP Sen. Perdue's campaign is preparing for 'coming runoff' in Georgia
NBC News has yet to make a projection in their race, but Sen. David Perdue's campaign said Friday that it's preparing for a runoff election against Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia.
A runoff election between Perdue and Ossoff could be pivotal for control of the U.S. Senate, and would come Jan. 5 - the same day Georgia is holding another Senate runoff election between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
"The stakes in this election could not be higher: a vote for Ossoff is a vote to hand power to Chuck Schumer and the radical Democrats in Washington," Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry said in a statement. "Georgians won't let that happen."
"We are excited for overtime," Fry added, citing Perdue's "commanding lead."
With 98 percent of the vote in, Perdue is leading Ossoff by 2 percentage points, and is .2 percent under the 50 percent total vote threshold he needs to win the seat outright.
Ossoff told reporters in Atlanta earlier Friday that he too believed "this race is headed to a runoff," but maintained that "we have all the momentum, all the energy, and we’re on the right side of history." "Retirement is coming for Sen. David Perdue," Ossoff said.
Bossie to lead Trump's election challenges
President Trump’s campaign has tasked David Bossie, his deputy campaign manager in 2016 and the head of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, to lead its efforts to challenge election results in several states, including Arizona and Pennsylvania, according to a person familiar with the decision.
Bossie has already been involved in coordinating the legal efforts and in communication with lawyers involved, a person familiar with the strategy said. But it is unclear if he will serve the same role that James Baker did for George W. Bush in 2000, coordinating the legal response and strategy.
The New York Times first reported Bossie would take the lead on election litigation.
Photo: Alex Jones joins protesters in Maricopa County
Pennsylvania GOP asks Supreme Court to stop count of mail-in ballots that arrived after Tuesday
Pennsylvania Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to order election officials to stop counting mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day.
"The vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next president of the United States," the party said in its emergency application. The GOP said that although the state's top election official has directed all counties to separate out the ballots that arrive after Election Day but before 5 p.m. Friday, it is unclear whether all the counties are obeying that directive.
The Republicans said the state Supreme Court had no authority to extend the mail-in ballot deadline, and therefore any votes cast during the extended period should not be counted. They asked the U.S. Supreme Court to order all counties to keep the late ballots separate and not to count them. Otherwise, they said, it might not be possible to remove those ballots from the count if the party later prevails on its argument that the deadline extension was illegal.
The party asked for a ruling "as soon as possible." The court will likely seek a response from the state before acting.
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords celebrates husband Mark Kelly's Senate win
You think vote counting in Nevada and Pennsylvania is slow? Think again.
The counting of ballots in some of the key swing states that remain too close to call may seem to be moving at a snail's pace, but actually, there are several states where the ballot counting is slower.
All eyes are on the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada and Pennsylvania and they are all still sifting through piles of mailed-in votes. All of these states have reported more than 90 percent of the votes that came in, but they're still counting.
Three states, however, have a significantly slower count underway. In California, which NBC News projects Biden won, the state has 77 percent of the vote tallied, with more than 3.6 million left to count. In Maryland, another state that Biden won, 70 percent of the vote has been counted with more than 949,000 ballots left to count.
Alaska, a solid red state and the nation's largest geographically, only has 56 percent of the vote in, with 194,000 ballots remaining that need to be counted. And no, Alaska doesn't use dog sled teams to deliver ballots.
The Week in Pictures: Election suspense and more
Pennsylvania appeals court orders some provisional ballots to be set aside for now
A state appeals court in Pennsylvania has ordered the secretary of state to notify all local election officials that they must set aside provisional ballots that were cast by voters as a way to fix problems with their mail-in ballots.
The court will later decide whether those votes can be counted. The issue is the practice of letting mail-in voters fix problems on their ballots or instead cast provisional ballots to solve the problems.
Republicans say state law doesn't allow that. Democrats say while state law doesn't explicitly provide for the practice, it doesn't prohibit it, either.
How Ritchie Torres, Congress' first gay Afro Latino, won on 'bread-and-butter issues'
Ritchie Torres learned he had been elected to Congress while watching the election returns at a friend’s house with a few core members of his campaign. The moment, he said, proved to be intensely gratifying.
“I was raised by a single mother who raised children on minimum wage,” Torres, a member of the New York City Council, said. “I lived in public housing and had to struggle with depression and substance abuse. I never thought life would take me on a journey from the Bronx to Washington, D.C.”
After winning a crowded primary this summer, Torres sailed to a resounding victory Tuesday over his Republican opponent in New York’s 15th Congressional District, a Democratic stronghold centered in the Bronx. Torres, 32, will become one of the first Black, openly gay men to serve in the House, along with Mondaire Jones, the winner Tuesday in New York’s 17th District, to the north of Torres’ district.
Torres said his entry into politics was heavily influenced by his experience growing up in a public housing development that had mold, mildew, leaks, lead and lacked consistent heat or hot water during the winter months.
Read more here.
Trump campaign defiant, but 'deflated' feeling creeping in
As the Trump campaign pushes forward with baseless claims of fraud in a race that’s increasingly slipping from its grasp, a campaign official says the team's desire to have a stronger, more experienced “face” of the legal fight started Wednesday, but so far has not materialized.
There's real frustration about how there’s no clear “field general” marshaling the legal and public relations battles, like what James Baker did for George W. Bush in 2000. As one ally said, “all the best names are Never-Trumpers.”
The defiant public posture from the Trump campaign also belies the “deflated” feeling among its staffers, and there’s apprehension about a dayslong wait for a concession that may never come.
Other than a single paper statement and some tweets from the president, there hasn’t been much from Trump's team today. Compare that to 24 hours ago, when there had already been one campaign call and several news conferences on the schedule. If we see the president today — a big if, since that discussion is still in process — it would not happen before 2 p.m. The president is working from the Oval Office this afternoon, the White House said.
Trump said in a statement released by the campaign, "We believe the American people deserve to have full transparency into all vote counting and election certification, and that this is no longer about any single election. This is about the integrity of our entire election process."
"From the beginning, we have said that all legal ballots must be counted and all illegal ballots should not be counted, yet we’ve met resistance for this basic principle by Democrats at every turn," the statement continued. "We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee the American people have confidence in our government. I will never give up fighting for you and our nation.”
Nevada's Clark County still needs to count tens of thousands of ballots
Nevada's Clark County registrar, Joe Gloria, said Friday afternoon that the county is still going through 63,000 mail-in ballots, 30,000 of which were reported in the morning.
He told reporters at a press conference Friday that the county will be providing results twice a day, with the next batch of results expected sometime before 4 p.m. PT. More than 200 new mail-in ballots came in Friday's mail. He also said that voters have until 5 p.m. PT Friday to provide ID for their ballots, which applies to about 44,000 in the system.
Gloria said that he hopes the county will finish counting the majority of absentee ballots by Sunday.
The county will also begin counting 60,000 provisional ballots Friday, although Gloria said that they're waiting for instructions from the secretary of state's office on when to send their report up. There are also about 2,100 ballots whose signatures need to be cured.
Biden is currently leading Trump in Clark County, which covers the Las Vegas area, by more than 20,000 votes.
Photo: Observers get a close look at Pennsylvania ballots
NAACP debunks claims about white supremacy plots
The NAACP on Thursday shot down claims being shared on social media and messaging apps claiming that the organization has knowledge of plots of domestic terrorism by white supremacists.
“While the NAACP takes all matters of discrimination, hatred and domestic terrorism very, very seriously, we thought it was important enough to let you all know in this moment that those claims are false,” Trovon Williams, the NAACP’s vice president of marketing and communications, said. “The NAACP has not come in contact with any such information.”
The message circulating falsely claims white supremacist groups are planning an initiation process for this weekend where initiates aim to kidnap and brutally murder Black men and boys. The message also outlines protective steps the Black community should take to keep the men in their life safe.
“Those claims are false,” Williams said. “These are certainly divisive times. Mechanisms like this are utilized to bring dissension and to also bring fear. We will not be fearful.”
2 men detained after police learn of possible threat to Philadelphia vote counting center
Two armed men who were en route to the Philadelphia Convention Center, where votes are being counted, were taken into custody Thursday night after police learned of a possible threat, a Philadelphia police spokesperson told NBC News.
The spokesperson added that charges are pending for the two men, who have not been publicly identified, and that the FBI is investigating the matter.
The two men were driving a silver Hummer truck from Virginia. Police said they found the car parked and unoccupied around 10:20 p.m. ET; about seven minutes later, two police officers on bicycles saw two men in possession of firearms.
Read more here.
Anticipating a Biden victory, Pelosi says 'it's a happy day for our country'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday morning that it was clear Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., would win the White House.
"It's a happy day for our country," she told reporters at her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol, calling Biden the "president-elect" though NBC News has not made a call in the presidential race yet.
"I think Joe Biden has a big mandate, a bigger mandate than John F. Kennedy when I was in school," she said.
Under a Biden-Harris presidency in the next Congress, the speaker said that Democrats would likely want to push a jobs bill, as well as an infrastructure package.
While she acknowledged that Democrats lost House seats this week, she said she views the developing situation as a “tremendous opportunity” and added, "We have the gavel."
Biden extends lead in Nevada, NBC News projects
Joe Biden has extended his lead over President Trump in Nevada, but the race is still too close to call, NBC News projects.
The change puts Biden's expanded lead at about 20,000 more votes than Trump, giving the Democratic nominee about 49.8 percent of the vote to the president's 48.1 percent, with about 92 percent of the vote reported.
Here's Obama's reaction to Biden gains
Former President Barack Obama believes in the electoral process and that, in the end, Joe Biden will be victorious, a senior member of the Obama-Biden White House who is close to the campaign tells NBC News.
This person adds that Obama really enjoyed being on the campaign trail for his former VP.
Georgia secretary of state says 'there will be a recount'
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Friday the presidential race in the state is "too close to call" and "there will be a recount in Georgia."
With millions of votes cast, Raffensperger, a Republican, said, it appears "we’ll have a margin of a few thousand" deciding the race. "With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia," he said.
"The final tally in Georgia at this point has huge implications for the entire country," he said. "The stakes are high and emotions are high on all sides. We will not let those debates distract us from our work. We'll get it right, and we will defend the integrity of our elections."
The state's voting system implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling, said, "We are looking at a margin of less than a large high school."
Raffensperger tempered his comment while speaking to reporters later in the day, saying a recount was "likely." Sterling called a recount a "strong probability."
Sterling said a recount could start only after the initial count is certified — a process that could take up to two weeks, although he said officials were optimistic they could get it done before then.
There were just over 4,000 votes still waiting to be counted Friday, and almost as many as 9,000 military ballots that will be counted if they're returned by the end of the day, election officials said.
Joe Biden's vote count began to exceed President Trump's early Friday morning, a lead that was up about 1,600 votes by just before noon ET.
Sterling said officials are not seeing "any widespread irregularities," but they're "investigating any real allegations." In a race this tight, Sterling said, "little small things can make a difference."
Democrat Mark Kelly unseats Martha McSally in Arizona Senate race, NBC News projects
Democrat Mark Kelly unseats incumbent Republican Martha McSally in the Arizona Senate race, NBC News projects.
Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, led the GOP senator by huge margins in polls leading up to Election Day, which also showed he is extremely well-liked and trusted in the state.
McSally, who lost her Senate bid in 2018, was appointed to the seat left vacant by the death of Republican Sen. John McCain later that year. The race was a special election to determine who serves out the remaining two years of McCain’s term.
An update on Trump's Nevada lawsuit threats
As of 10:30 a.m. Friday, the Trump campaign had yet to file the lawsuit it said Thursday would be coming in Nevada.
However, two Republican candidates for Congress filed a lawsuit late Thursday that includes an allegation similar to the one stated in the Nevada Republican Party’s letter to the Justice Department: "Irregularities have plagued the election in Clark County, including lax procedures for authenticating mail ballots and over 3,000 instances of ineligible individuals casting ballots."
This lawsuit notably does not ask the court to do anything but stop the county from using automatic technology to perform signature matching on ballot envelopes and to provide more access for election count observers.
Biden campaign tells staffers to 'enjoy this moment'
A top Biden aide said not to expect to hear from Joe Biden until Friday in prime time, assuming the race is called by then.
Per this aide, Biden is expected to focus his address on themes that have driven his whole campaign: "Unity, healing, coming together as a nation, being a president for all Americans."
A friend and ally of the former vice president described his mood and outlook as “Joe is really Irish so he’s understandably a bit superstitious about not taking anything for granted and waiting for the counting and challenges to resolve even while he’s getting briefed on options for pandemic response and recovery.”
The campaign said running mate Kamala Harris will speak before Biden.
The Biden campaign held its usual communications staff call earlier Friday, led by Communications Director Kate Bedingfield. One person on it says that where she’s been reserved these last few days, the vibe Friday morning was "we did it."
Staffers had previously been told, "don’t watch the news, keep your head down, do the work." But Friday morning, they were told: "This is the moment when you should be watching the news. They did the work, now enjoy this moment."
For a campaign staff that has tried to be reserved these last 48+ hours, this feels like a breaking of the emotional dam.
The mood at Trump campaign headquarters: grim but determined
The Trump strategy is coming into clearer view: claim fraud (despite no evidence to back that up) and don’t back down an inch. There's been no decision yet on whether the president will speak publicly on Friday.
The mood at campaign headquarters in Virginia seems grim but determined. Campaign manager Bill Stepien has yet to make any remarks to staff this morning, per a person close to the campaign. Younger staffers are feeling ready for a fight in the courts, but the more seasoned veterans know Trump has likely lost and there is a very, very narrow path left. People aren’t to the point of crying and comforting each other yet, but they aren’t high-fiving, either. Most staffers are still coming into work, but don’t have anything to do, so some are sitting at their computers refreshing results pages.
The public posture of defiance is becoming more clear: economic adviser Larry Kudlow told our colleagues on air at CNBC that he spoke with the president this morning and says he “intends to fight.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says a scenario in which the president concedes is “hypothetical” at this point. And one source close the campaign says there’s “no talk of conceding — no one’s having that conversation," adding the president will fight “to the last second.”
But there are those in the orbit who understand the endgame is likely near: “I think it’s over,” predicts one outside adviser, “probably goes to the courts in some form and then chips fall where they fall.”
Any concession would likely not happen until all canvassing is done and any recounts and lawsuits are complete, a source familiar with the discussions said.
Top White House adviser predicts 'peaceful transition of power'
Larry Kudlow, President Trump's top economic adviser, told CNBC on Friday that, "I think there will be a peaceful transfer of power ... This is the greatest country in the world and we abide by the rule of law, as will the president."
Kudlow also said he spoke to the president earlier Friday morning and Trump “intends to fight.” Kudlow says he personally is taking it one day at a time.
Kudlow says it has been an honor working for Trump for the past three years and it has been a tremendous experience for him.
Counties with worst virus surges overwhelmingly voted Trump
U.S. voters went to the polls starkly divided on how they see President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. But in places where the virus is most rampant now, Trump enjoyed enormous support.
An Associated Press analysis reveals that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority — 93 percent of those counties — went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas.
Most were rural counties in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin — the kinds of areas that often have lower rates of adherence to social distancing, mask-wearing and other public health measures, and have been a focal point for much of the latest surge in cases.
'This election is not over': Trump campaign defiant after Biden takes lead in Pennsylvania
After Biden pulled ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania on Friday morning, the president's campaign released a statement declaring that the election was not over.
“This election is not over. The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final," the campaign's general counsel, Matt Morgan, said in a statement. "Georgia is headed for a recount, where we are confident we will find ballots improperly harvested, and where President Trump will ultimately prevail. There were many irregularities in Pennsylvania, including having election officials prevent our volunteer legal observers from having meaningful access to vote counting locations."
There is no evidence of ballot harvesting in Georgia and no evidence of irregularities in Pennsylvania where its officials have made clear that vote-counting observers have not been limited in their access to seeing the process underway.
There's also no guarantee there will be a recount yet in Georgia where Biden pulled ahead of Trump's lead early Friday morning by more than 1,000 votes. In Pennsylvania, NBC News projected that Biden leads in the state, pulling ahead of Trump by more than 5,500 votes Friday morning. If Biden secures Pennsylvania's 20 Electoral College votes, he will win the presidential race.
Morgan then claimed without any evidence that thousands of people improperly cast ballots in Nevada and that Trump is on track to win Arizona.
"Biden is relying on these states for his phony claim on the White House, but once the election is final, President Trump will be re-elected," he said.
Biden needs 17 more electoral votes to win the Electoral College while Trump would need 56 more votes.
FIRST READ: Biden has learned the lessons from the 2000 recount, Trump hasn’t
With Joe Biden on the cusp of 270 electoral votes — for yet another day — it’s become clear that the Biden camp learned the lessons from the Florida recount from 2000.
And Trump and his campaign didn’t.
Lesson #1: Pick a message and stick with it: In 2000, the Gore team said “count every vote,” while the Bush team said “the election is over,” our colleague Matt Rivera reminds us.
Well, right now, Biden and his campaign have stayed with a consistent message. “We have to count the votes,” Biden said Thursday.
But Trump has been all over the place. First, the president said, “Frankly, we did win this election.” (Which isn’t true.) And then he tweeted, “STOP THE COUNT!”
Joe Biden takes the lead in Pennsylvania after edging ahead in Georgia
A win in Pennsylvania, which carries 20 Electoral College votes, for Biden would secure him the election.
Economy added 638,000 jobs in October vs. 530,000 expected, unemployment rate falls to 6.9 percent
The U.S. economy added 638,000 jobs in October, far more than the 530,000 that analysts predicted, but still an indication of the challenges the next president faces in rebuilding the labor market.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent from 7.9 percent, according to data released Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, the country has replaced about half of the 22 million jobs lost in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The sluggish hiring comes as the country faces record daily coronavirus infection rates that threaten to slow economic activity, with the U.S. logging 120,000 cases on Thursday.
Georgia voters urged to check status of the mail-in ballots
Joyce Lanterman, 48, from Atlanta, decided to check the status of her mail-in ballot Wednesday, the day after Election Day, after she saw multiple social media posts urging voters to make sure their ballot was received and counted.
After she mailed in her ballot back in October, Lanterman checked and saw it was marked as “received;” However, when she checked again Nov. 4, she saw it had been changed to “challenged” for an “invalid signature.”
“I thought I was done and [now] I have to open this whole can of worms back up again, the day after, like not even the day of, the day after the election, was so stressful,” Lanterman said.
Georgia officials are working to notify voters that they can cure their ballots, but many have not, according to the secretary of state’s office; Lanterman did not receive a call.
In addition, some organizations such as Stacey Abrams’ “Fair Fight” are recruiting volunteers to call voters and walk them through the “ballot curing” process.
Biden overtook Trump's lead early Friday as officials scrambled to finish counting ballots. Voters have until the end of the day to check on their ballot status.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones addresses pro-Trump protesters in Arizona
Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones joined supporters of President Trump gathered outside of Maricopa County's Elections Department in downtown Phoenix for a third consecutive night of protest Thursday.
Waving "Trump 2020" and American flags, members of the crowd — some of whom were armed — shook Jones’ hand before he stood to address them over a megaphone, urging them to not accept any potential election results.
"No matter what happens in this election, the fight’s out in the open now!" Jones said on video verified by NBC News. "The real fight starts now."
Jones is the personality behind InfoWars, a radio, website and internet empire that has been widely criticized. In December, a judge ordered the host to pay $100,000 in a defamation case over the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre after he was sued by the parents of a 6-year-old who was among the 26 killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
Trump has repeated made false and baseless claims about massive voter fraud.
Arizona is too close to call, according to NBC News. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is the largest in the state and will prove crucial in the presidential race.
The Maricopa County Elections Department said earlier that it had worked with sheriffs to create a "free speech zone" outside the building in order to "balance the protection and wellbeing of our election workers and volunteers with the constitutional right of protesters who may wish to demonstrate.”
INTERACTIVE: All the ways Biden and Trump could reach 270
Joe Biden maintained his Electoral College lead over President Donald Trump by early Friday morning, but he's still under the 270 electoral count needed to win the 2020 presidential election. Finish the 2020 map on our interactive page by clicking or tapping an individual state or toggle in order to move it to red or blue. States where NBC News has a projected or apparent winner cannot be changed.
Biden takes the lead in Georgia
Joe Biden overtook President Trump early Friday in the crucial battleground of Georgia.
He currently holds a slim 917 vote lead over Trump.
Biden's numbers in Georgia have improved as absentee ballots from large Democratic counties have been counted. Clayton County had been the source of the latest votes, which helped put Biden into the lead. The county has been counting ballots through the night, with Biden winning about 85 percent of the vote there.
There remain outstanding ballots in the state, mostly in Democratic-leaning counties.
Here's where things stands entering Friday
There remain six states that NBC News rates as either too close or too early to call. Five of those states are under the microscope as influencing whether Biden or Trump will win the presidency — North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Votes in those states are either trickling in or counts remain paused. As it stands, Biden holds a 253 to 214 lead in Electoral College votes. A candidate needs to secure 270 electoral votes to win.
Should Biden pull out a victory in Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, he will have secured the election, which he can also do by winning any two of those other four states.
Much of the remaining vote to be counted in Pennsylvania is both of the mail-in variety and in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, both of which have broken substantially in Biden's favor.
In Georgia, Clayton County has continued counting through the night and has provided small numbers of additional votes, helping Biden overtake Trump.
'This is getting insane': Republicans push back against Trump's false election claims
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.
States still too close to call
Here are the elections results pages for the six states that are still too close to call, per NBC News' projections:
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, including claims about "illegal ballots," mail-in voting and ballot-counting observers.
He then repeated some of them in a series of tweets sent after 2 a.m. ET on Friday.