Donald Trump has reiterated unproven claims that widespread voter fraud marred the United States presidential election, which remains too close to call as ballot counting continues in several key states.
In a Thursday evening address at the White House, the US president struck a typically defiant tone, accusing pollsters of interfering in the election process and Democrats of engaging in fraud – an unproven claim he has repeated throughout the week.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” said Trump, adding that if “illegal votes” are counted, “they can try to steal the election from us”.
The Republican leader did not provide any evidence to back up any of his claims. It was the first time he addressed the nation since election night.
People across the US continue to wait for a projected winner in the divisive presidential contest, which pitted Trump against Democratic challenger Joe Biden and saw a historic voter turnout.
Trump is currently projected to have won 214 electoral votes, according to The Associated Press news agency, compared with 264 electoral votes for Biden.
The Trump campaign filed lawsuits this week demanding ballot counting be suspended in several states that are key to winning the White House, while also signalling its intent to demand a recount in Wisconsin.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, two duelling rallies of Biden and Trump supporters were held on Thursday afternoon outside a conference centre where election officials were counting ballots.
Echoing the candidates themselves, Trump’s backers want the count to be stopped, while Biden supporters are demanding that every vote be counted.
Earlier on Thursday, Biden urged people to remain calm as the ballot tabulation continues. “Each ballot must be counted,” the former vice president said from Delaware.
Democracy is sometimes messy, so sometimes it requires a little patience.
But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 5, 2020
“It is the will of the voters – no one, not anyone else – who chooses the president of the United States of America,” Biden said.
Republicans voice criticism
Legal experts have rejected the Trump campaign’s allegations that widespread voter fraud has taken place.
“There is no reason I have seen anywhere to believe that there’s a problem here,” Michael Gilbert, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
“It’s just vote-counting takes time, and they’re counting the votes. I see no evidence of fraud. I see zero evidence whatsoever of an election being stolen.”
Republican legislators also on Thursday voiced criticism of Trump’s unproven comments.
We want every vote counted, yes every legal vote (of course). But, if you have legit concerns about fraud present EVIDENCE and take it to court. STOP Spreading debunked misinformation… This is getting insane.
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) November 6, 2020
“If you have [legitimate] concerns about fraud present EVIDENCE and take it to court. STOP Spreading debunked misinformation… This is getting insane,” Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives for Illinois, tweeted.
“There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process,” Republican Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan also tweeted. “America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before.”