(LEAD) (US election) Biden inches closer to possible victory amid slow vote counting
(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from Trump, Biden, more information in paras 21-24; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- 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 3 p.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 remain unchanged since late 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.
A winner may still emerge as soon as either candidate surpasses the 270 threshold in electoral votes needed to win.
Trump continues to lead in three of the six battleground states -- Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania -- but his victory there alone will not afford him four more years at the White House, while his narrow leads in Georgia and Pennsylvania remain fragile.
Biden, on the other hand, is projected to have won at least two of the six battleground states -- Michigan and Wisconsin -- while continuing to lead in Arizona.
His win in the three states, along with Nevada, is expected to carry him over the finish line with at least 270 electoral votes.
In the latest development, the small gap between Trump and Biden in Georgia continued to narrow throughout the day, with the president holding just about 12,000 more votes than his Democratic rival as of 3 p.m.
State officials said some 50,000 votes still remained uncounted.
Election observers believe Biden has a very good chance to close the gap and even overtake Trump in Georgia, noting most outstanding votes, not just in Georgia but most other states, are mail-in votes, which tend to be Democratic.
Trump currently has a rather comfortable lead of more than 100,000 votes over Biden in Pennsylvania, but the gap has steadily been shrinking from a one-time high of over 600,000. More than 300,000 votes remain uncounted there, and they most are mail-in votes, according to state officials.
Should Biden come from behind to overtake Trump and win Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, it will carry him over the finish line, even without the help of any of the five other states where vote counting continues to be under way -- Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina.
Declaring victory may still take more time despite Trump prematurely declaring his victory early Wednesday, only hours after polling closed.
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."
"How come every time they count mail-in ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?" he has tweeted. "(These are) states, in almost all instances Democrat run and controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. Very strange, and the 'pollsters' got it completely and historically wrong," he added.
The Trump campaign has also 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 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.
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