The image provided by Yonhap News TV shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. American voters began hitting the polls on Tuesday, to elect the next US president. (Yonhap)
WASHINGTON, -- The United States -- and the rest of the world -- continued to wait Thursday for the outcome of the presidential election as vote counting progressed at a snail's pace two days after the polls closed, with Democratic candidate Joe Biden holding razor-thin leads in key states.
Both Biden and President Donald Trump still had a chance to win, but the former vice president was nearing a surprise victory in at least three of the six key battleground states that were all won by Trump in the 2016 election.
As of 1 a.m., Biden was projected to have secured 253 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House against Trump's 213. Both numbers remained unchanged since late Wednesday.
Biden, however, continued to move closer to overtaking Trump in Georgia, which if won, would give him an additional 16 electoral votes, leaving him just one vote shy of the 270 needed to cross the finish line.
Trump still had a lead in Georgia over Biden, but only by a margin of some 1,700 votes as of 1 a.m.
His margin began to narrow after the state began counting early, mail-in votes, a phenomenon seen in most other states, including Michigan and Wisconsin.
Biden had come from behind to overtake Trump and eventually win the two states that are part of the six key battleground states that were all won by Trump in the 2016 election. They include Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The former vice president is also narrowing his gap with Trump in Pennsylvania that once stood at over 600,000.
As of 1 a.m., Trump had a 24,000-vote lead over Biden, but with hundreds of thousands of votes still waiting to be counted there, many believe another upset victory by Biden may be highly possible.
Most outstanding votes being counted now are early, mail-in votes, which, according to election watchers here, tend to be "heavily skewed toward the Democrat."
They noted the Democrats had urged their supporters to vote early and by mail if possible, partly to avoid the danger of contracting the new coronavirus while voting in person, while Trump had encouraged his voters to show up in person, partly by repeatedly raising questions over the validity of mail-in ballots.
Should Biden win Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, it will carry him over the finish line to presidency, regardless of the outcome of vote counts in any of the five remaining states.
Declaring victory may still take more time despite Trump prematurely declaring his victory early Wednesday, only hours after polling closed.
Trump renewed his claim that Democrats were trying to "steal" the election Thursday.
"If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us, if you count the votes that came in late," he told a White House press conference.
He also claimed what he called "election apparatus" were run by Democrats, even in states with Republican governors, and that they were running "secret count rooms" to count "mystery" and "illegal" votes.
He argued he had won the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, but that his lead in the states got "miraculously whittled down."
However, when it came to Arizona where he is now trailing Biden, he said he was "on track to do OK" and that "we will see what happens."
Trump has filed lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania to have their vote counting halted, partly on grounds of alleged vote counting irregularities.
He earlier accused the Democrats of "dumping" ballots in key battleground states where he said his earlier lead tended to "magically disappear.
The Trump campaign has said it will demand a recount of votes in Wisconsin, where the president is projected to have lost to Biden with a margin of less than 1 percentage point.
Trump also continued to question the validity of vote counts, saying, "Stop the fraud!" in one Twitter message and then repeating "STOP THE COUNT!" in at least two other tweets.
Biden, on the other hand, expressed his faith in the system, saying, "The process is working.
"The count is being completed, and we will know very soon," he said at a brief press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, that was also attended by his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
"We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Sen. Harris and I will be declared the winners. So I ask everyone to stay calm, all people to stay calm," he added.
Biden earlier said he will not be hasty in declaring victory, noting vote counting must continue until each and every vote is counted.
Still, he has expressed confidence over his win.
"It's clear that we're winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Vote counting has been slow in several states, including the key battleground states, partly because of a high voter turnout rate that was widely expected to have been the highest in over a century.
Also, a record number of more than 101 million Americans voted early either in mail-in ballots or in-person voting. With some states, such as Nevada, accepting mail-in ballots for up to a week after Election Day, election watchers believe it could take several more days before all votes can be counted. (Yonhap)