PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania is steadily pushing Joe Biden over the threshold to victory in the 2020 presidential race, but the race is still too close to call Friday morning with thousands of votes still to count.
Just after noon Friday Eastern time, the latest tally from the Keystone State had Biden with 3,302,824 votes to President Donald Trump’s 3,293,143 votes.
With every tranche of mail-in ballots carefully tabulated, that gap widens. Earlier Friday morning, Trump was clinging to his initial Election Day lead by some 20,000 votes.
Pennsylvania says 4.72% of mail ballots remain to be counted, with some 60,000 ballots remaining in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties.
Biden is also expected to take Nevada, Arizona and, rather remarkably, Georgia, where his chances have been improving by the hour. The remaining votes to be counted in all of the states are mostly mail-in ballots, which have massively favored Democrats so far.
The former vice president is said to be serene about the wait.
“Stay calm. The process is working,” the former vice president said Thursday in an address from Wilmington, Delaware. “The count is being completed. And we’ll know very soon.”
Pennsylvania has continued counting its ballots through multiple lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump’s campaign here and across the country to stop a process that he claims without evidence is fraudulently manipulating the vote.
To reach the 270-vote threshold for electoral college victory, it would not be enough for Trump to secure all three states where early returns put him in the lead, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia. He would also need an upset in either Nevada or Arizona. For Biden, however, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes alone put him at 273.
The Trump campaign’s litigation led to a brief halt in the counting of ballots Thursday morning in Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold where county officials had restricted access to vote-counting operations in the interest of privacy and safety.
Earlier that morning, a judge found that the observation area that the county had designated was too far from the action. She said COVID-19 safety protocols justified letting poll watchers get within 6 feet of anything they wanted to observe, but the ruling was put on hold as Democrats and the county appeal.
There is no word yet on that appeal from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Meanwhile a federal judge denied the campaign an emergency injunction Thursday night.
The Keystone state has long been a focus for Trump after it extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to include anything postmarked on Election Day that arrives as late as Friday.
Before the election, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on that issue in a 5-3 order issued before Justice Amy Coney Barret began hearing cases.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Trump’s deputy campaign manager Justin Clark maintained that “ballot receipt deadline is in fact a change of the time, place, and manner of the election.”
“As the president has rightly said, the Supreme Court must resolve this crucial contested legal question, so President Trump’s campaign is moving to intervene in the existing Supreme Court litigation over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s unlawful extension of the mail-in ballot receipt deadline,” Clark continued.
Trump has cited transparency as a basis to stop all vote-counting in Pennsylvania, even as Philadelphia streams the ballot-canvassing process live on Youtube. During Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016, he said that he will embrace election results “if I win” but contest or file a challenge if he loses.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf condemned Trump’s efforts to stop the vote count before every eligible vote is counted Thursday in a statement, vowing his state would “count every vote” regardless of any intimidation.
“As a country and a commonwealth we must reject efforts to intimidate election workers and prevent votes from being counted,” Wolf said. “The planned attacks on our elections this morning are undemocratic and all elected officials must denounce them. Pennsylvania will be prepared to protect our election workers and our votes.”
— By Alexandra Jones, CNS