Ahead of recount results, Georgia officials say Biden likely to remain the winner


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© Reuters. President-elect Biden departs The Queen following a virtual meeting with frontline healthcare workers in Wilmington

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By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A key battleground state in the 2020 presidential election is expected on Thursday to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, which would deal yet another setback to Trump’s scattershot efforts to hold on to power.

Georgia’s top election official, a Republican, has said a labor-intensive hand recount likely will not erode Biden’s initial 14,000 vote margin enough to hand Trump a victory in the state.

That would leave Trump with a dwindling number of options as he tries to overturn the results of an election in which he drew 5.8 million fewer votes than Biden nationwide.

To remain in office, Trump would need to overturn results in at least three large states to flip the results of the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner.

Biden has captured 306 electoral-college votes to Trump’s 232.

Trump’s campaign has met with little success so far.

In Wisconsin, election officials say a partial recount underway in the state’s largest Democratic-leaning counties probably will likely only add to Biden’s 20,000-vote margin.

Trump’s campaign can request another recount in Georgia after that state certifies its vote tally, expected to be on Friday.

In Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump’s lawyers have met with a string of defeats as they argue those states should declare Trump the winner, despite unofficial results that show Biden ahead by 158,000 votes and 83,000 votes, respectively.

Those legal motions, sprinkled with factual errors, have been dismissed by Biden’s campaign as “theatrics” that are not based on sound law. Several prominent law firms have pulled out of the operation, leaving Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to spearhead the efforts.

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State and federal election officials, as well as outside experts, say Trump’s argument the election was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud has no basis in fact.

However, it does appear to be affecting public confidence in American democracy. A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Wednesday found about half of Republicans believe Trump “rightfully won” the election.

Arizona’s top election official, Katie Hobbs, said she and her family had been getting violent threats. Hobbs, a Democrat, called on Trump to stop casting doubt on the result.

Trump himself has no public events scheduled for Thursday. He has largely stayed in the White House and kept out of public view since the election.

His administration so far has refused to recognise Biden as the winner, which has held up funding and security clearances to ease the transition from one president to another ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Biden said on Wednesday the delay is preventing his team from being able to plan new efforts to fight a third wave of coronavirus infections, which is putting immense strain on the U.S. healthcare system.

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