US election 2020: Biden takes Georgia to solidify victory

Rezo Haiti 4 Nov 13
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image captionJoe Biden campaigned in Atlanta, Georgia, in October

US President-elect Joe Biden has won the state of Georgia, the BBC projects, the first Democratic candidate to do so since 1992.

The win solidifies Mr Biden's victory, giving him a total of 306 votes in the electoral college - the system the US uses to choose its president.

Georgia and North Carolina are the last states to be decided. Donald Trump is projected to win in North Carolina, giving him 232 electoral votes.

But he still refuses to concede.

President Trump has launched a flurry of legal challenges in key states and levelled unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

Mr Biden's electoral votes equal the tally Mr Trump, a Republican, achieved in his victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. At the time Mr Trump referred to it as "a landslide".

A manual recount is to be carried out in Georgia because of the narrow margin between the two candidates, but the Biden team said they did not expect it to change the results there.

Mr Trump's team dropped a lawsuit in Arizona on Friday after it became clear his rival's lead was unassailable.

Despite Mr Trump's refusal to accept defeat, pressure is growing on him to acknowledge Mr Biden's victory and help prepare the transition from one administration to another.

media captionPresident Trump: "Who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell"

In his first official appearance since his defeat in the 3 November election, Mr Trump acknowledged the possibility of a new administration in January, but stopped short of announcing a formal concession.

Speaking at a briefing of the coronavirus task force in the White House Rose Garden, he said: "Ideally, we won't go to a lockdown. This administration will not be going to a lockdown. Whatever happens in the future - who knows which administration will be. I guess time will tell."

Earlier, he took to Twitter, thanking those who supported his unsubstantiated claim that the election was "rigged". He suggested he might join them at a rally planned in Washington on Saturday.

The message came hours after US election officials said the vote was the "most secure in American history", the most direct rebuttal from federal and state officials of the president's claims.

The statement from the Election Infrastructure Government Co-ordinating Council was released after Mr Trump tweeted that voting software used in 28 states had deleted millions of votes for him, but presented no evidence.

media captionObama: Claims of election fraud are "delegitimising" democracy

The claim appeared to originate from the obscure TV network One America News (OANN) and was flagged by Twitter as disputed.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News: "President Trump believes he will be President Trump, have a second term".

Joe Biden did not have to win Georgia or Arizona to secure the White House. His recapturing of the "blue wall" northern industrial states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by themselves assured his victory.

The former vice-president's success in these Sun Belt states - the first time a Democrat has won either in decades - suggests, however, that Democrats may be clearing a new path to presidential success in future elections.

If so, it would make Democrats less dependent on the kind of non-college-educated white voters in those northern battlegrounds that, given Donald Trump's appeal, may be trending toward the Republicans. It was educated suburban voters, as well as traditionally Democratic ethnic minorities, that delivered Georgia and Arizona to Mr Biden.

It is not all good news for the Democrats, however. Donald Trump did win North Carolina - another southern swing state - even though it was carried by Barack Obama in 2008.

The electoral map is shifting, and the parties will have to adjust their strategies accordingly. In the meantime, Georgia - which has two January run-off elections that will decide control of the US Senate - will take centre stage in the months ahead. Joe Biden's narrow victory there all but assures it will be a hotly contested battle.

A group of more than 150 former national security officials warned that delaying the transition posed "a serious risk to national security".

In a letter, they urged the General Services Administration - the government agency tasked with beginning the transition process - to officially recognise Mr Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris so that they could access "pressing national security issues".

media caption"My message to Republican friends"

Also, a small but growing number of Republicans are backing calls for President-elect Biden to be given daily intelligence briefings.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally, was among those saying Mr Biden should start receiving the secret presidential memo, as is usual with incoming presidents.

Between 10 and 20 Republicans in Congress have now either congratulated Mr Biden or accepted there must be moves towards a transition. But most have yet to acknowledge the president-elect's win.

Correspondents say Republican lawmakers are anxious not to alienate the Trump base, given that the president just won more votes than any incumbent ever, even though he is projected to lose.