Election 2020 presidential results

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Jessica Estepa, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 7:32 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020
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2:56 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

The Trump campaign filed a series of lawsuits in key battleground states. Here's what we know.

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

President Trump's team launched a series of lawsuits in key battleground states that seemed less about sound legal reasoning and more about slowing Joe Biden from marching over the electoral vote threshold. 

At times, the lawsuits have contested ballots in the double digits — hundreds if not thousands of votes away of potentially swing any state's result.

"Admitting defeat is not a plausible reaction so soon after the election, so they throw a lot of Hail Mary lawsuits at the wall and hope something sticks," said longtime Republican elections lawyer and CNN contributor Ben Ginsberg. He said these types of suits aren't indicative of a campaign that's feeling optimistic — and instead, is scrambling.

"I think much of the litigation is a longshot and unlikely to succeed," said Franita Tolson, a law professor at USC Gould School of Law and CNN contributor. 

She pointed to a lawsuit in Georgia the Trump campaign announced Wednesday night over a poll worker mixing unprocessed and processed absentee ballots. That might have the potential to affect few votes, she said. 

"I suspect that a big goal of this litigation is, in the short term, to change the narrative" from a potential Biden win to a conversation about election mismanagement or even fraud, Tolson said.

Another law professor and CNN contributor, Rick Hasen, said the lawsuits appeared to be more public relations than serious litigation. "These lawsuits so far are not tackling any major problem that would seem to call overall vote totals into questions," he said.

Justin Levitt, another elections expert and law professor, called some of the suits, like in Michigan, "laughable." 

"One says you didn't put people by absentee dropboxes, so stop the count. Huh?!"

Even a Republican-appointed federal judge in Pennsylvania cast doubt on the validity of a suit from Republicans on Wednesday, when they challenged fewer than 100 ballots that absentee voters corrected in a county outside Philadelphia. At a hearing Wednesday morning, the judge, Timothy Savage, did not rule, yet he suggested the lawyer for Republican canvass observers was seeking to disenfranchise votes. He noted the lawsuit appeared to have other problems in its arguments. 

Some legal challenges in Pennsylvania from the Trump campaign were quickly dismissed on Election Day, with Trump touting his appeals of those losses apparently as new cases Wednesday. For instance, a Philadelphia election day judge had shot down a Trump campaign case over ballot processing access, writing that "observers are directed only to observe and not to audit ballots" and deciding that the city's board of elections complied with the law. Another Election Day challenge from the Trump campaign to the ballot observation process in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, also near Philly, was dismissed by a judge, though Trump is now appealing, according to Pennsylvania court records.

Lawyers for the Trump campaign sued in Nevada on Tuesday, too, claiming that their observers were not given enough access to all aspects of the ballot counting process — from opening the ballots, to machine and manual signature checking and duplicating spoiled ballots. A Nevada judge denied the GOP challenge to the early voting process in the heavily Democratic county.

“If this last-minute suit were successful, it would require a major change in how [Nevada] processed absentee [ballots] to determine if the signature on the ballot matched the voter’s prior signature on file,” said Richard Pildes, a constitutional law professor at New York University and CNN election law analyst. “Courts are typically unwilling to let plaintiffs come in the door so late in the day and ask for major changes to a process that’s already well underway.”

However, one suit, the petition before the US Supreme Court on Pennsylvania's ballot deadline, may be a more serious litigation challenge. It challenges the validity of potentially several thousand votes cast in good faith by voters, but received by officials after the election through the mail. 

For this case to make a difference, Pennsylvania would need to be the deciding state for the election, and the margin of difference between Trump and Biden would need to be a few tens of thousands of votes.

CNN's Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.

2:31 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Nevada attorney general: We feel "impenetrable" to any potential Trump legal challenge 

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Nevada is ready to rebuff any legal challenges the Trump campaign brings against the state's election results, the state's Democratic attorney general Aaron Ford said late this evening.

"We feel quite invulnerable, if you take a look at the track record we've already established against Mr. Trump," said Ford when asked by CNN's Chris Cuomo how invulnerable to legal attack he felt.

"[Trump] sued us twice, maybe three times, already," he said. "Each time my office has been able to work with our local district attorney ... and defeat those lawsuits."

Late last month, for example, the Trump campaign along with Nevada Republicans sued in state court to halt the count of some mail-in ballots over stringency of signature-matching computer software and how closely observers can watch votes being counted. A Nevada judge rejected that lawsuit on Monday, with less than 24 hours before Election Day.

"We actually have safeguards to prevent fraud, such as signature verification and unique barcodes, that are also part and parcel of the process here," Ford told Cuomo. "We think it's pretty impenetrable when it comes to legal challenge against us."

Watch the interview:

2:05 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Update on Philadelphia mail-in ballots expected overnight

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

New numbers on Philadelphia mail-in ballots are expected overnight, according to a state official.

Philadelphia County still has 120,000 mail-in ballots to count, according to the state’s website.

2:09 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Key Pennsylvania county finishes counting mail-in and absentee votes

From CNN's Alexandra Field

Election precinct suitcases containing ballots, election materials and keys to voting machines are held under guard by the Allegheny County Police at the Allegheny County elections warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 4.
Election precinct suitcases containing ballots, election materials and keys to voting machines are held under guard by the Allegheny County Police at the Allegheny County elections warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 4. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, says it has finished tabulating mail-in and absentee ballots.

County spokesperson Amie Downs told CNN early Thursday that the county tabulated 313,072 absentee and mail-in votes.

Downs said the county will resume tabulating several precincts’ worth of in-person votes later Thursday morning.

1:48 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

About 14,000 ballots left to count in Georgia's Fulton County, elections director says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, on November 4.
Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, on November 4. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Fulton County elections director Richard Barron said his staff and volunteers have about 14,000 mail-in ballots left to be counted, adding they have been counting at a rate of about 3,000 ballots per hour.

His team, many of whom have been working since 8 a.m. ET, have so far counted 127,948 ballots and adjudicated 123,716, he said. 

Barron, who leads the count in Georgia's most populous country, which includes Atlanta, said he feels a responsibility to get the ballots counted as quickly as possible. Earlier in the evening he said his team would not pause until all the ballots had been counted.

"Georgia is one of the last few states that hasn't been called," he told CNN's Nick Valencia. "It's our responsibility to get these things counted tonight if we can, to at least help the process along so that people have peace of mind that all the votes are counted in Georgia."

The county has tabulated all in-person votes and is now counting only absentee votes. The only remaining votes would be provisional and overseas military ballots which are due on Friday. As of 1:20 a.m., CNN’s election data gave Joe Biden a 73% to 26% advantage in Fulton Country. 

CNN's Nick Valencia has more:

1:17 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

This is where the vote count stands in Pennsylvania

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

With 71% of mail-in ballots counted in Pennsylvania, officials still needs to count 763,000 of the 2.6 million cast, according to the state’s official website and reporting from CNN's Kristen Holmes.

Major updates are expected from both Philadelphia County, the largest in the state, and Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, before the night is over, Holmes reported.

In Philadelphia County, a major Democratic stronghold, 120,000 mail-in ballots remain uncounted. Seventy percent of those ballots were cast by registered Democrats while 20% were cast by registered Republicans. 

"Does every mail-in ballot mean it is a Democratic vote? Absolutely not," said Holmes of the ballots in Philadelphia County. "But they are skewing Democratic." 

In Allegheny County 46,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted, as of 12:45 p.m. ET.

CNN's Kristen Holmes walks through the latest:

1:09 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Arizona's Maricopa County ballot results are slightly delayed

From CNN's Kyung Lah

Maricopa County elections officials count ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in Phoenix, on November 4.
Maricopa County elections officials count ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in Phoenix, on November 4. Matt York/AP

Maricopa County will post its next batch of ballot results closer to 1:30 a.m. ET/11:30 p.m. MT, because of the process of uploading the data, according to Diana Solorio, a spokesperson for Maricopa County Elections Department.

They originally expected the results to be released by 12:30 a.m. ET/10:30 p.m. MT.

Solorio said the delay is not related to the protest going on outside the elections department building, but that it is simply part of the process uploading election data like this. 

On Tuesday after the initial results posted at 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT, the next uploading took some time and was delayed.

Maricopa County Elections Department tweeted about the ongoing count:

1:05 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Here's how the votes are being counted in Pennsylvania

From CNN's Jeremy Moorhead and Mackenzie Happe

CNN visited a ballot counting facility today in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt explained to CNN the process of counting ballots in Pennsylvania, and why the state had to wait until Election Day to begin counting any votes. 

Here's what we found out:

12:50 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Georgia's DeKalb County finishes counting

From CNN's Chris Youd

In this Monday, November 2 photo, election workers sort ballots at the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections office in Decatur, Georgia.
In this Monday, November 2 photo, election workers sort ballots at the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections office in Decatur, Georgia. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

DeKalb County, Georgia, a large Democratic stronghold just outside Atlanta, finished counting its last absentee ballots just after midnight Thursday.

A total of 127,019 absentee ballots were processed. 

The county’s final tally was roughly 83% for Biden and 16% for Trump.

Fulton County, Georgia’s most populated county, meanwhile is still counting votes. At last check, 17,000 votes remained uncounted in that county.

Why this matters: There are 16 electoral votes at stake in Georgia. CNN is yet to project a winner in the state. Joe Biden leads the race for the presidency with 253 electoral votes. President Trump has 213 electoral votes. The candidates each need 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.