President Donald Trump on Wednesday began taking legal steps to challenge election counts in certain states, filing a lawsuit against Michigan, intervening in an existing Pennsylvania case and seeking a recount in Wisconsin.
Former Vice President Joe Biden held a 248-214 electoral vote advantage over Trump as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The Associated Press, which called the race in Wisconsin on Wednesday afternoon.
While races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina remain undetermined, Biden said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that he had a clear path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
"When the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners," Biden said.
Biden pulled ahead in Michigan on Wednesday morning after Trump led the state after midnight. Trump still led in Pennsylvania Wednesday afternoon, but that lead was shrinking.
At issue in both states was mail-in ballots.
"This is the most important election of our lifetime, and President Trump made clear our path forward last night: ensure the integrity of this election for the good of the nation," Justin Clark, Trump 2020 deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday morning that hundreds of thousands of votes still need to be counted but officials hoped to finish by the end of the day. With 99 percent of the vote counted in Michigan, Biden led by about 60,000 votes, or about 1 percent.
But Bill Stepien, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, said the campaign hasn't been given access to all counting sites in Michigan, so it filed suit to halt the count.
“President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law," Stepien said. "We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access. President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”
In Pennsylvania, predictions that it might take the Keystone State several days to sort through an unprecedented number of absentee ballots appeared to be coming true.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, the state's top election official, said Wednesday that the state still needed to count 1.3 million mail-in ballots, out of 2.6 million that were sent in by voters.
Trump still had a sizable lead in Pennsylvania on Wednesday afternoon, with a margin of more than 315,000 votes, giving him a 52-47% advantage. But onlookers noted that the mail-in ballots that had been counted so far were favoring Biden by a margin that, if it held up, would allow the Pennsylvania native to catch up to and surpass the president and claim the state's 20 electoral votes, which would be devastating to Trump's chances at reelection.
Trump's campaign said Boockvar, in collusion with the state Supreme Court, illegally allowed for mail-in votes to arrive and be counted well after the election.
"The United States Constitution is clear on this issue: the legislature sets the time, place, and manner of elections in America, not state courts or executive officials," Clark said. "As the President has rightly said, the [U.S.] 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."
The campaign said the law was on the president’s side: "as the Eighth Circuit just said, to change the ballot receipt deadline is in fact a change of the time, place, and manner of the election – and only a state legislature or the United States Congress can do that under the Constitution."
The Trump campaign also said it will sue the state of Pennsylvania to, similar to the case in Michigan, "stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers – observers whose only job is to make sure every valid ballot is counted, and counted once."
In Wisconsin, with 99 percent of the vote counted, Biden led Trump by about 20,000 votes, enough for The Associated Press and other media outlets to call the race there.
Trump's campaign team said it would seek an immediate recount in the state after claiming irregularities with the vote count.
"Despite ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic, Wisconsin has been razor thin as we always knew it would be," Stepien said in a statement. "There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubt about the validity of the results. The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so."
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said about 200,000 absentee ballots remained to be counted and the state hoped to have those done this afternoon.
In North Carolina, between 100,000 to 200,000 absentee ballots still needed to be counted.
Votes in Nevada, an expected Biden win, and Alaska, an expected Trump win, were also still being counted Wednesday and no winner has been declared in either state.
If the contests in Nevada (6 electoral votes) and Alaska (3) finish as predicted and Trump wins in the states he's currently leading in, including Pennsylvania, the president likely still needs to win in Michigan to be reelected or win a recount in Wisconsin.
Trump so far has been declared the winner in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Biden won Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
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