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This coverage has ended. Follow here for Friday’s updates.

The margins have narrowed in the counts in both Pennsylvania and Georgia, as votes continue to be tallied and Democratic nominee Joe Biden moves closer to the 270 electoral college votes needed for victory. No new counts are expected from Nevada or Arizona until Friday.

President Trump and his allies met with two immediate defeats in court, in Georgia and Michigan, as they pressed unsubstantiated claims of fraud as officials count ballots. Trump on Thursday evening unleashed a tirade from the White House briefing room that was filled with falsehoods about the U.S. electoral system.

The latest on vote counting in the states still in play …
  • Georgia: Trump’s lead in the vote count in Georgia is about 1,800 votes as of 11:15 p.m. Eastern. Just over 14,000 votes were left to be counted, and about 8,900 requested overseas and military ballots have till tomorrow to arrive.
  • Pennsylvania: Trump’s lead in the count dropped to under 23,000 votes as of midnight.
  • Arizona: Biden’s lead in the vote count narrowed to about 46,000 votes as of 9 p.m. Thursday. At least 293,000 ballots remain to be counted statewide. Maricopa County, the state’s largest, plans to update its count at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Friday.
  • Nevada: According to the secretary of state, there are 190,000 ballots to be counted. About 90 percent are from Clark County, home to Las Vegas. The next update on the count will be at noon Eastern Friday.
  • North Carolina: Election officials said they will review about 41,000 provisional ballots from voters whose eligibility may be questioned, along with around 110,000 outstanding absentee ballots. They expect to finalize their count by Nov. 12. Biden is about 76,000 votes behind Trump.
5:57 a.m.
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Secret Service plans to ramp up protection of Biden in anticipation of his possible win

By Carol D. Leonnig

The Secret Service is sending reinforcements to Wilmington, Del., starting Friday to help protect former vice president Joe Biden as his campaign prepares for the possibility he may soon claim victory in his bid for the White House, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The Secret Service summoned a squad of agents to add to the protective bubble around Biden after his campaign alerted the Secret Service the Democratic nominee would continue utilizing a Wilmington convention center at least another day and could make a major speech as early as Friday, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the security protocols.

4:16 a.m.
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Senate control could hinge on two Georgia run-offs

By Paul Kane

The battle for control of the Senate headed into a two-month overtime as Georgia prepares to host two runoff elections Jan. 5 that are likely to determine which party controls the chamber, with the potential to dramatically alter the arc of a new Democratic administration if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

As the dust settled on almost every race, Republicans have secured 48 seats in next year’s Senate and hold steady leads in two other contests but need to win at least one of the two races in Georgia to land a clear majority of 51 seats.

That leaves Democrats, with a caucus of 48 senators so far, one last chance to reclaim the majority by trying to secure a double victory in what used to be a conservative Republican stronghold. If successful, and if Biden secures the White House, the 50-50 Senate would tilt to the Democrats once Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) is sworn in as vice president.

3:52 a.m.
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Graham, Cruz and others rally to Trump’s defense after being called out by president’s sons

By Colby Itkowitz

After Trump’s sons and others in the president’s immediate orbit complained that not enough Republicans were speaking out in defense of the president’s unsubstantiated claims of election corruption, several prominent Republicans publicly echoed Trump’s rhetoric.

When Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who won reelection, was mentioned on Twitter by name for staying silent about the results, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted back, “No one is surprised.”

Several hours later, Graham was on Fox News with Sean Hannity, where he falsely claimed that the election had been rigged. The senator, one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, said he would be donating $500,000 to Trump’s legal fund, prompting Eric Trump to tweet: “Thank you for having a spine! Fight this fraud!”

Graham also told Hannity that he was open to the idea of the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania legislature choosing its own electors, overriding the will of the voters.

After Graham’s segment, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) appeared with Hannity and accused the Democrats of trying to steal the election from Trump.

Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, who defeated incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), made similar allegations, tweeting the same conspiracy theory that the legal counting of mail-in ballots for Biden is proof of corruption.

“The election results are out of control. It’s like the whistle has blown, the game is over and the players have gone home, but the referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard,” the former football coach said.

Earlier in the day, Trump’s sons began tweeting about the lack of Republican support, specifically warning anyone who might consider running for president in 2024 that Trump voters wouldn’t forget their silence.

3:09 a.m.
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Pennsylvania’s top election official says most ballots to be counted by Friday

By Danielle Rindler and Colby Itkowitz
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that there are still “several hundred thousand ballots remaining to be counted” as of the evening on Nov. 5. (The Washington Post)

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D) said that ballot-counting is running ahead of schedule and that almost all votes would be tallied by Friday.

“I think what I’ve said all along is that the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted by Friday,” Boockvar said.I still think that we’re ahead of schedule, and we actually already have counted the overwhelming majority of ballots. But because it’s a close race, it’s not quite clear yet who the winner is.”

As of 11 p.m., there were about 175,000 mail ballots outstanding in the state. By 11:30, Trump’s lead had dropped to under 25,000 votes. According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, there were more than 55,000 mail ballots remaining in Philadelphia County and nearly 36,000 in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh — both Democratic-leaning areas.

These figures do not include any mail ballots that were postmarked by Nov. 3 but arrived after Election Day, as well as provisional ballots. Boockvar could not say how many of those types of ballots are expected but said it wouldn’t be a “significant amount.”

3:02 a.m.
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Centrist House Democrats lash out at liberal colleagues, blame far-left views for costing the party seats

By Rachael Bade and Erica Werner

An angry dispute erupted among House Democrats on Thursday, with centrist members criticizing their liberal colleagues during a private conference call for pushing far-left views that cost the party seats in Tuesday’s election that they had worked hard to win two years ago.

The bitter exchange, which lasted more than three hours as members sniped back and forth over tactics and ideology, reflected the extent to which the 2020 campaign exposed simmering tensions in the party even as its presidential nominee, Joe Biden, stands on the brink of achieving their biggest goal of the year — unseating President Trump.

Party leaders had expressed certainty that Trump’s divisiveness and mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic would help them expand their majority with wins in GOP-held districts — and yet they lost at least a half-dozen seats and failed to retake the Senate. The explanation laid out by centrists, according to multiple people who were on the call and spoke on the condition of anonymity, is that Republicans were easily able to paint them all as socialists and radical leftists who endorse far-left positions such as defunding the police.

2:42 a.m.
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Nevada GOP sends criminal referral alleging thousands of instances of voter fraud to Justice Department

By Emma Brown and Matt Zapotosky

The Nevada Republican Party on Thursday evening announced that it had sent a criminal referral to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr alleging that at least 3,062 people voted in Nevada after moving out of state.

The move came after a news conference earlier in the day at which party and Trump campaign officials claimed widespread fraud in Nevada without providing evidence. And it came just minutes after President Trump, speaking publicly for the first time since election night, baselessly attacked mail ballots as fraud-ridden.

The party’s lawyers sent to Barr a list of voters identified by cross-checking voter registration names and addresses with the National Change of Address database.

Nevada law allows residents to vote after moving out of state if they are serving in the military, married to someone in the military or going to school. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada noted in a tweet Thursday that voters in the state do not lose their eligibility to vote when they leave the state temporarily.

A spokesman for Clark County did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier in the day, Joe Gloria, the county’s registrar of voters, said in response to questions about potential voter fraud that he would investigate any incident reported to him. “We’re firm in our commitment to making sure that we’re processing ballots with high integrity,” he said.

A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a move that could produce an investigation, confirmed that the department had received the referral and that officials were “looking into it.” The official declined to provide further details.

A 2017 guide on the prosecution of election offenses says it is “the general policy of the Department not to conduct overt investigations, including interviews with individual voters, until after the outcome of the election allegedly affected by the fraud is certified.” The department, though, recently issued guidance offering more leeway and raising fears among some legal observers about a possible effort to bolster Trump’s exaggerated claims of fraud via mail-in voting.

On Thursday, the Trump campaign also threatened to file a federal lawsuit to stop the counting of “improper” votes. The campaign and the GOP have already filed multiple unsuccessful legal challenges in Nevada, first to the voting rules and then to vote-counting procedures in Democratic-leaning Clark County.

2:38 a.m.
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Biden’s lead in Arizona shrinks to 46,000 votes; counting continues

By Hannah Knowles

PHOENIX — Biden’s lead over Trump in Arizona dwindled further Thursday night, to about 46,000 votes, as Maricopa County tallied more ballots.

The county, Arizona’s largest, still has about 300,000 early ballots left to count, officials say. There are more than 90,000 other ballots yet to be counted elsewhere in the state, according to the Arizona secretary of state’s website.

Statewide, as of about 7 p.m. on Thursday, Biden had 50.06 percent of the vote, and Trump had 48.54 percent, the secretary of state said. Biden’s lead — which stood at nearly 75,000 votes Thursday morning — has been shrinking, and the Trump campaign insists it can still win the race.

Maricopa County will update its numbers at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday.

2:19 a.m.
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Small protests flare and tension grows as ballot count continues

By Robert Klemko, Hannah Knowles, Mark Berman and Abigail Hauslohner

Various groups across the country pledged to continue protests outside ballot-counting locations in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Detroit on Thursday, as the final tallying of ballots continued in key states.

Many of the demonstrations were spurred by conspiracy theories that centered on unfounded fears of fraud, including suggestions that Democrats are creating forged ballots for presidential candidate Joe Biden. The rumors have rapidly proliferated among right-wing social media users, fueled in part by baseless allegations from President Trump and his high-profile associates.

“STOP THE COUNT,” Trump tweeted on Thursday, as the growing tally of ballots narrowed his lead over Biden in some states.

1:43 a.m.
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Military ballots could play greater role in narrow state counts

By Missy Ryan and Alex Horton

Votes cast by military personnel could assume greater importance as the race between Trump and Biden narrowed to a handful of battleground states that accept service members’ ballots after Election Day.

Authorities in Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Alaska continued to count ballots and wait for others yet to arrive, including those cast by uniformed troops and their families stationed away from their homes.

12:57 a.m.
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Judge denies Trump campaign bid to stop count in Philadelphia

By Jon Swaine
Votes were still being counted in Pennsylvania on Nov. 5 as President Trump’s reelection campaign attempted to halt vote-counting in the state. (The Washington Post)

A federal judge denied a request by President Trump’s campaign to stop the vote count in Philadelphia on Thursday evening, instead brokering a deal for dozens of observers from each party to watch the process.

Judge Paul S. Diamond said that the Republican and Democratic parties should each be allowed 60 representatives to observe ballots being counted by election workers.

“I don’t understand entirely why this couldn’t have been agreed to absent judicial intervention,” Diamond said, after sharply criticizing the president’s legal team throughout the hearing.

The Trump campaign had asked Diamond to issue an emergency injunction to bar officials “from continuing to count any ballots,” alleging that all Republican observers were being illegally blocked from watching the count.

But an attorney for Trump’s campaign conceded during the hearing that they in fact had “a nonzero number of people in the room,” leaving Diamond audibly exasperated.

Diamond remarked at one point that “the whole thing is going to be moot” because counting in the state would likely soon be complete.

Lawyers for Philadelphia denied that Republicans were being barred from the count, but said that one GOP representative was removed after refusing to abide by social distancing rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

12:55 a.m.
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Trump repeats vows of litigation, unsubstantiated claims of fraud

By Colby Itkowitz and Derek Hawkins

Speaking publicly for the first time since early Wednesday, Trump repeated his baseless claims of voter fraud and vowed “a lot of litigation” to challenge the vote-counting process during a White House news conference at which he did not take any questions.

Trump rattled off a long list of false claims and baseless allegations about the election and the vote-counting process. Without evidence, he attacked the integrity of mail-in ballots, claimed media and tech companies had engaged in “interference,” and accused local election officials of corruption. He attacked public polls that showed Biden ahead as suppression efforts. He also mischaracterized processes related to the tabulation of ballots, falsely suggesting that Republican observers were not present in some vote-counting centers.

The president also lamented that he had been ahead in key battleground states on election night but had lost significant ground since, suggesting wrongly that this was due to something nefarious. Biden began to catch up to Trump once mail-in ballots were counted.

“We were winning in all the key locations by a lot, actually, and then our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away in secret,” Trump said.

“And we’re still ahead by a lot, but not as many because they’re finding ballots,” Trump added. "All of a sudden we have some mail-in ballots. It’s amazing how those mail-in ballots are so one-sided, too.”

The president spent the past several months sowing doubt about mail ballots and encouraging his voters to wait to cast ballots until Election Day.

Trump also incorrectly stated that the “election apparatus in Georgia is run by Democrats” and that "officials overseeing the counting in Pennsylvania and other states are all part of a corrupt Democrat machine.”

Of the states still too close to call, Nevada and Georgia have Republican secretaries of state, while Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona have Democratic secretaries of state. In North Carolina, elections are overseen by a bipartisan board.

While Trump hadn’t spoken in public since early Wednesday, he’s been tweeting incessantly, making claims of fraud that prompted Twitter to flag them as containing possible misleading or false information.

12:41 a.m.
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Republican former U.S. attorneys slam Trump’s calls to stop counting votes as ‘clearly inappropriate’

By Tom Hamburger

A new letter from 20 Republican former U.S. attorneys criticizes “President Trump’s premature, baseless, and reckless comments about the vote in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”

The letter labels Trump’s claims of fraud and his threats to initiate litigation aimed at stopping the vote count as “clearly inappropriate” and having the potential to “undermine the rule of law as it applies to our electoral process.”

The group faults Trump’s effort to claim victory before all votes are counted as “imprudent and irresponsible.”

The letter concludes by calling on him “to patiently and respectfully allow the lawful vote-counting process to continue, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws, and to avoid any further comments or other actions which can serve only to undermine our democracy.”

The letter is signed by former U.S. attorneys from the District of Columbia, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere. One of the signers, Greg Brower, a former U.S. attorney for Nevada, also served during the first years of the Trump administration as the FBI’s assistant director for congressional affairs.

The signers were part of a similar group that last month criticized Trump for undermining the rule of law. They endorsed Biden before the election.

11:26 p.m.
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USPS processed 150,000 ballots after Election Day, jeopardizing thousands of votes

By Jacob Bogage and Christopher Ingraham

More than 150,000 ballots were caught in U.S. Postal Service processing facilities and not delivered by Election Day, agency data shows, including more than 12,000 in five of the states that have yet to be called for either President Trump or his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Despite assurances from Postal Service leaders that agency officials were conducting daily sweeps for misplaced ballots, the mail service acknowledged in a court filing Thursday that thousands of ballots had not been processed in time, and that more ballots were processed Wednesday than on Election Day.

The number of mailed ballots the Postal Service did not deliver by Election Day is expected to grow as more data is released in the coming days. Some election experts worry such delays could run up against even more generous ballot acceptance windows that some states have granted.