The result of the US presidential election is hanging on the vote count in a handful of key states, with the race too close to call so far.
Democrat Joe Biden has multiple paths to victory with 264 electoral votes – including Michigan and Wisconsin – compared with 214 for President Donald Trump, who would need to take all the remaining states.
In order to win, 270 electoral votes are required. Those votes are divided up proportionately among the states.
As it stands, there are five states still left uncalled, including crucial prizes such as Pennsylvania and key small state Nevada, as well as Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska.
Much of the delay comes from this year’s flood of mailed-in ballots due to the coronavirus.
Those types of votes have tended to favour Democrats.
If Biden’s lead in Arizona holds and he wins Nevada and its six electoral votes as expected, he will have 270 electoral votes and can claim victory.
Should Trump hold North Carolina and Georgia but lose Arizona, he must take Biden’s home state of Pennsylvania as well as Nevada to win. Simply winning Pennsylvania – or even Pennsylvania as well as Alaska and its three electoral votes, as expected – will not be enough.
The paths to victory become murkier should some of the expected outcomes change.
Here is a summary of the situation:
If Biden takes Nevada, it could all be over.
The Democrat is expected to win Nevada’s six electoral votes, but the Western state – home to entertainment city Las Vegas – remains too close to call.
With 86 percent of the votes counted, Biden had 49.3 percent to 48.7 for Trump.
State officials said Wednesday that further results would not be known until Thursday.
This is the state that could take the longest to declare a winner – and one that could potentially decide the outcome with its 20 electoral votes at stake.
With 89 percent of the vote counted in the industrial Rust Belt state, Trump was ahead with 50.7 percent compared with Biden’s 48.1 – but the incumbent’s lead was shrinking as the vote-counting continued.
The remaining ballots are expected to favour Biden, who was born in the state.
Much to Trump’s chagrin, Pennsylvania has decided to allow the counting of mail-in ballots sent by Election Day but received up to three days afterwards due to coronavirus complications. Authorities expect to complete the count by Friday.
But on Wednesday, Trump’s campaign said it was suing to halt the count, accusing electoral officials of prohibiting Republican “observers” from approaching closer to 25 feet (7.6 metres) to vote counters.
Trump appeared favoured to win North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes despite a strong showing by Biden, but it remained too close to call.
With 95 percent of the votes counted, Trump had 50.1 percent and Biden 48.6 in the southeastern state.
Mail-in ballots sent on or before election day can be counted until November 12.
Biden performed unexpectedly well in the southeastern state that is traditionally a Republican stronghold, but Trump was still ahead – though his lead was narrowing. The state has 16 electoral votes.
With 95 percent counted, Trump had 49.7 percent compared with 49.1 for Biden. US media are expecting an extraordinarily close race.
A final result is expected Wednesday or early Thursday.