DONALD Trump and Joe Biden each claim to be ahead in the US presidential election, even as the final outcome hangs on a razor’s edge and both sides ramp up for legal action.
The Trump campaign is challenging vote counts in the key states of Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The BBC projects Mr Biden won Michigan. US media forecast he took Wisconsin. No result has emerged in Pennsylvania.
Winning all three of these Rust Belt states would hand Mr Biden victory.
Democratic candidate Mr Biden stopped short of declaring he had won, but said he was confident he was on course to defeat Republican Mr Trump.
Overall turnout in Tuesday’s election was projected to be the highest in 120 years at 66.9%, found the US Election Project.
Mr Biden had the support of 70.5 million voters, the most won by any presidential candidate ever. Mr Trump has pulled in 67.2 million votes, four million more than he gained in 2016.
The bitter election race was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit a new record high of 103,000 daily cases in the US on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
What are the campaigns saying?
On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware: “When the count is finished we believe we will be the winners.”
He added: “I will govern as an American president. The presidency itself is not a partisan institution.”
He said he was feeling “very good” about Pennsylvania, although the campaign of President Trump said it was “declaring victory” in the state on the count of “all legal ballots”.
Senior Trump campaign aide Jason Miller said: “By the end of this week it will be clear to the entire nation that President Trump and Vice-President Pence will be elected for another four years.”
Can Trump still win?
Mr Biden has the edge in the race to accumulate the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. The Democrat has 243 votes, while the Republican has 214.
In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than a single, national one. Each US state gets a certain number of electoral college votes partly based on its population and there are a total of 538 up for grabs.
If Mr Trump does lose Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes), he must win Georgia (16 votes), North Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (20) and either Arizona (11) or Nevada (6) to prevail.
Officials in Georgia said they were going to keep going all night until counting was finished, but as of midnight local time (05:00 GMT) they reported that there were still about 90,000 votes to count. At that time President Trump was leading by some 31,000 votes.
Arizona was trailing a vote update at about 06:00G, but this will not be a final tally. Mr Biden was leading by about 80,000 votes, with 85% of ballots tallied. CBS has categorised it as a “likely” win for the Democrat.
An update on the count in Nevada – where the candidates were neck-and-neck – is not expected until Thursday at 1700g, while in Philadelphia, counting is not expected to be finished for several days.
What legal challenges are afoot?
The Trump campaign said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties”.
Incomplete results indicate the margin between Mr Trump and Mr Biden in Wisconsin is less than one percentage point, which allows a candidate to seek a recount.
The campaign also filed a lawsuit in Michigan to stop counting there because it contended it had been denied “meaningful access” to observe the opening of ballots and the tally.