US election live: Trump and Biden set sights on White House
The US presidential election has reached its climax, with voters braving long queues and the threat of coronavirus to cast ballots backing Republican incumbent Donald Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Nearly 100 million Americans had already voted – a record number – in an election dominated by the candidates’ handling of the pandemic, as well as issues around racial justice and economic fairness.
Mr Biden headed to Philadelphia on election day, stopping off at a carpenters’ union hall and his childhood home in his native Scranton before awaiting election results in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, visited his campaign headquarters in Virginia, and invited hundreds of supporters to an election night party in the East Room of the White House.
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A federal judge in Washington DC has ordered US Postal Service inspectors to search more than two dozen mail processing facilities for lingering postal ballots and for those ballots to be sent out immediately.
The order, which includes centres in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, south Florida and parts of Wisconsin, comes after national delivery delays leading up to the election and concerns the agency would not be able to deliver ballots on time.
The Postal Service’s ability to handle the surge of postal ballots became a concern after its new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor, implemented a series of policy changes that delayed post nationwide this summer. Delivery times have since rebounded but have consistently remained below the agency’s internal goals of having more than 95% of first-class mail delivered within five days, with service in some battleground areas severely lagging, according to postal data.
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Richard Stoffel, 77, compared Donald Trump to Jesus Christ.
Wearing a Trump 2020 cap and a T-shirt reading “Jesus is my saviour, Trump is my president,” he praised the president for “bringing us back to our roots”.
“And he’s cleaning the swamp,” said Mr Stoffel, who described his occupation as “prayer warrior”.
“He’s doing the right thing, he’s brave. Like Jesus, he does the right thing no matter what the cost.”
Mr Stoffel said he is sure Mr Trump will win another term and predicted he would serve another four years after that, despite the constitution limiting a president to two terms.
Mr Stoffel refuses to wear a mask in public and believes the coronavirus pandemic is a manufactured crisis.
“He’s done a good job with the coronavirus,” he said of Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
“The only better thing I thought he could have done is not kowtow to it as much as he did. It’s all a fake bunch of baloney.”
Supporters of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have gathered near Lafayette Square in central Washington DC, a stone’s throw from the White House.
The area is at the heart of US power and nearby buildings include the FBI headquarters and the Treasury Department.
The street leading up to Lafayette Square was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza Northwest in June and signs supporting the movement are plentiful.
Many businesses in central DC are boarded up in preparation for any unrest on election night while the White House itself is protected by a fence preventing anyone getting close.
There was a carnival atmosphere on Tuesday afternoon as supporters of Mr Trump and Mr Biden mixed without trouble, while a band performed and preachers delivered street sermons.
The latest tally of early voting in the US shows that almost 102 million Americans cast their votes before election day, a total that represents 73% of the total turnout of the 2016 presidential election.
The Associated Press tally reveals that the early vote in several states, including hotly contested Texas and Arizona, has already exceeded the total vote of four years ago.
Early voting – whether in-person or by post or absentee ballot – has swelled during the Covid-19 pandemic as voters have sought the safety and convenience it offers. The greatest gains have been witnessed in Kentucky, where almost 13 times as many voters cast their ballots early as in 2016.