Presidency hinges on tight races in battleground states

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Election staff members pack ballots after polls closed at the Moose Lodge on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

WASHINGTON – The fate of the United States presidency hung in the balance Wednesday morning, as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden battled for three familiar battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House.

A late burst of votes in Wisconsin from Milwaukee gave Biden a small lead, but it was too early to call the race. Hundreds of thousands of votes were also outstanding in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The two candidates, who have proposed dramatically different visions for the nation, split territory across the U.S. after polls closed Tuesday night. With neither candidate securing the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, Biden urged patience and vowed that every vote would be counted.

But Trump, in an extraordinary move from the White House, called for outstanding ballots not to be counted.

Trump made premature claims of victories in several key states and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.

Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors met. That’s set by federal law.

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days after the election.

Trump suggested those ballots shouldn’t be counted. But Biden, briefly appearing in front of supporters in Delaware, urged patience, saying the election “ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”