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The vote counting has slowed to a crawl across three critical states.

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‘We’re Going to Win this Race’: Biden Speaks From Delaware

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, expressed confidence that he would win the presidential election and that his lead had given him “a mandate for action” on national issues.

We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet. But the numbers tell us it’s clear, tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race. We’re on track to have over 300 electoral votes, Electoral College votes. And look at the national numbers. We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us. We’ve gotten over 74 million votes. Let me repeat that: 74 million votes. That’s more than any presidential ticket has ever gotten in the history of the United States of America. I know watching these vote tallies on TV moves very slow, slow, and it’s — and as slow as it goes, it can be numbing. But never forget: The tallies aren’t just numbers. They represent votes and voters, men and women who exercised their fundamental right to have their voice heard. And what’s becoming clearer each hour is that record number of Americans of all races, faiths, religions, chose change over more of the same. They’ve given us a mandate for action on Covid, the economy, climate change, systemic racism. They made it clear they want the country to come together, not continue to pull apart. Look, we both know tensions are high. They can be high after a tough election, one like we’ve had. But we need to remember: We have to remain calm, patient. Let the process work out as we count all the votes. You know, we’re proving again what we’ve proved for 244 years in this country: Democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen. The people will be heard.

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Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, expressed confidence that he would win the presidential election and that his lead had given him “a mandate for action” on national issues.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. stood on the cusp of the presidency on Friday, seizing leads over President Trump in Pennsylvania and Georgia and building on his lead in Nevada as he drew ever closer to securing the 270 electoral votes needed to lay claim to the White House.

“We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us,” Mr. Biden said late Friday night as he recounted his vote totals in the major battleground states and projected confidence that victory was inevitable. “We’ve rebuilt the ‘blue wall’ in the middle of the country that crumbled just four years ago. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, the heartland of this nation.”

Mr. Biden, who was winning the popular vote by more than four million votes on Friday night and has already won 253 electoral votes, had pulled ahead of Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania by more than 28,800 votes. If his lead holds — and it is expected to — the state’s 20 electoral votes would vault him past the threshold to win the election.

In his remarks at an event center in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden claimed a “mandate for action” to begin work on issues that included the coronavirus, the economy, climate change and systemic racism.

But he also urged patience and calm as the results came in.

“We have to remain calm, patient, let the process work out as we count all the votes,” he said.

In Philadelphia, some Biden supporters started dancing in the street outside the convention center, in front of a banner declaring “The People Have Spoken.”

In Georgia, Mr. Biden’s lead was initially so narrow that state officials said a recount was inevitable. But by Friday evening it had grown to about 4,000 votes.

In Arizona, Mr. Biden maintained his lead as election officials continued to plow through tens of thousands of ballots from Phoenix and its suburbs. His advantage shrank slightly, but not by as much as Republicans had hoped.

In Nevada, Mr. Biden nearly doubled his lead Friday to around 22,600 votes.

Mr. Biden’s appeal to let the process play out contrasted with that of Mr. Trump, who took the lectern in the White House briefing room on Thursday to falsely claim that the election was riddled with fraud, as part of an elaborate coast-to-coast conspiracy by Democrats, the news media and Silicon Valley to deny him a second term.

As the number of outstanding ballots slowly dwindled, Mr. Trump was left increasingly with only legal challenges to forestall defeat, while Mr. Biden was betting on the steady accumulation of mail-in ballots to keep him on top in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Biden had already begun to project the image of a man preparing to assume the mantle of the presidency, meeting with his economic and health advisers to be briefed on the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Biden kept a low profile for much of Friday. But outside the Westin hotel near his home in Wilmington, signs of celebration were afoot — a celebration that would end up being delayed, again, as Mr. Biden waited on an official call of the race.

Thomas Kunish, 40, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., 100 miles away, said he had driven in to show support with his five-year-old son, spending the night in the car. The last time he voted, he said, was for George W. Bush in 2000.

“It was interesting, the past four years,” Mr. Kunish, who works in the defense industry, said of Mr. Trump’s presidency. “There was hope when he got elected, things maybe would change?” Instead, he said, the Trump administration was marked by “turmoil.” He and his son were hoping to see fireworks Friday night — which did not come to pass.

Mr. Biden’s team had hoped the former vice president would have delivered a victory speech in prime time, but instead, Mr. Biden spoke briefly before a small group of reporters late Friday night.

“I hope to be talking to you tomorrow,” Mr. Biden said.

Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

Nearly a dozen lawsuits filed by President Trump and his allies are working their way through the courts in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, trying — so far unsuccessfully — to stop ballot counting and invalidate enough votes to erase Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s leads there. Here is a look at those cases.

In Pennsylvania, the biggest fight has been over ballots that are postmarked by Election Day but arrive later. In September, the state Supreme Court ruled, over Republican objections, that election officials could accept ballots arriving up to three days later. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intercede, but left open the possibility that it could revisit the question.

Separately, the Supreme Court did grant the Trump camp a minor victory in Pennsylvania on Friday evening, when Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. ordered election officials there to keep the late-arriving ballots separate from other ballots, and not to include them, for now, in announced vote totals. But the victory was essentially in name only: Pennsylvania’s secretary of state had already given that instruction.

The entire dispute over the late-arriving ballots could be moot, because Mr. Biden has taken the lead in Pennsylvania even without those late-arriving ballots.

One of several other Pennsylvania disputes involves people from both parties who observe the tabulation in Philadelphia, where they were told to stay 10 feet away from the vote counters. Some Trump allies have claimed, falsely, that no observers were allowed. In response to a Republican complaint, a judge ruled on Thursday that they could stand within six feet, but refused to stop the counting.

A similar case in Michigan was thrown out.

In Nevada, the Trump campaign has sued to stop the processing of mail ballots, claiming that its monitors had inadequate access. A judge denied the request, citing a lack of evidence. Another Republican suit claimed lax authentication of ballots; a judge dismissed it.

An Arizona lawsuit claims that ballots filled out with felt-tipped pens were being discarded; state and federal officials say that is false. A case in Georgia claims that a few dozen late-arriving ballots — which the state does not allow, even if they are postmarked by Election Day — were not properly set apart, raising the possibility that they would be counted. A judge threw out the complaint, saying there was no evidence that the ballots in question had arrived late.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The vote count slowed to a crawl Friday afternoon across the states most likely to decide the presidency, leaving Joseph R. Biden Jr. tantalizingly close to the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president-elect, but without a clear sense of when he might reach that number.

The Keystone State remains Mr. Biden’s clearest path to victory; a win there would be enough to call the entire race in his favor. He slowly built a lead of more than 28,800 votes on Friday, with about 100,000 absentee ballots still to count. He has won more than three-quarters of the absentee votes counted so far.

A quarter of the remaining ballots are in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, where no ballots were tabulated on Thursday. The county said it would try to count its remaining ballots on Friday, and a new batch of tabulated ballots reportedly coming Friday evening could conceivably bring the networks to call the state — and therefore the election — in Mr. Biden’s favor.

The rest of the ballots are spread across Pennsylvania’s other counties, and it is unclear whether or why the count in those places has slowed. More ballots may come later on Friday, slowly padding Mr. Biden’s edge. Or not.

There’s no obvious path to victory for Mr. Trump in the state, so it is not clear why the networks have not called the state in Mr. Biden’s favor. One possibility is that the networks are waiting, as they often do, for Mr. Biden to build a lead outside the margin of a recount — in Pennsylvania, that is half a percentage point. That level of caution may be particularly appropriate in the case of mail-in ballots, which could conceivably be rejected or segregated.

The networks will also consider the state’s 100,000 or so provisional ballots, cast by people who could not be verified as eligible when they showed up to vote, before making a projection. Typically, these ballots lean overwhelmingly Democratic, but that is at least somewhat complicated by the unusually heavy Republican vote on Election Day this year.

There’s no telling how quickly Mr. Biden will amass a large enough lead for news organizations to call him the winner in Pennsylvania. But he has another path to a victory if Pennsylvania’s count continues to drag out: If he wins both Nevada and Arizona, he does not need Pennsylvania to reach 270 electoral votes.

Mr. Biden already has a nearly two-point lead over Mr. Trump in Nevada, and the outstanding vote — most of it in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas — appears likely to break toward Mr. Biden. The Nevada secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, said that many of the remaining votes are mail-in ballots, which have so far broken to Mr. Biden by a wide margin. The rest are a mix of provisional ballots and ballots from same-day registrants, which could be more competitive but seem unlikely to help Mr. Trump eat into Mr. Biden’s lead.

The Clark County registrar’s office said Friday that it would release another batch of votes at 7 p.m. Eastern, which might further pad Mr. Biden’s lead.

In Arizona, Mr. Biden leads by roughly 29,860 votes, with about 140,000 votes to count. But it is tight: Mr. Trump will need to win what’s left by approximately 20 percent to overtake Mr. Biden, and he has led by nearly as much in the late count.

Most of the remaining votes are in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, and the state expects to report many new ballots there at 9 p.m. Eastern. Mr. Biden fared better in this morning’s Maricopa ballots than he did yesterday, perhaps reflecting a gradual shift toward counting ballots that were dropped off on Election Day, which have tended to be more Democratic. If Mr. Biden continues to improve in the count tonight, Mr. Trump’s path to win the state will start to narrow — possibly enough to allow a projection.

Credit…John Amis/Associated Press

Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia, was fighting for his political life on Friday in a contest that could determine which party controls the Senate, as his re-election bid headed to a January runoff against Jon Ossoff, his Democratic challenger.

Mr. Perdue had a razor-thin lead over Mr. Ossoff in a contest that demonstrated Democrats’ emerging strength in what was once a Republican stronghold in the Deep South. Neither candidate claimed a majority of votes amid a protracted count, according to The Associated Press.

The inconclusive result set up a dramatic rematch between Mr. Perdue and Mr. Ossoff on Jan. 5, and thrust Georgia into the center of the nation’s political fray as Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared on track to win the White House. The state had already been slated to decide the fate of its other Senate seat in a special-election runoff between the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, the same day. That makes it nearly certain that the twin Georgia races will determine which party controls the chamber just two weeks before the next presidential inauguration.

“Change has come to Georgia,” Mr. Ossoff said at a rally on Friday, “and Georgia is a part of the change coming to America.”

If Mr. Biden wins the White House, and Democrats take both of Georgia’s seats, they would draw the Senate to a 50-50 tie, effectively taking control of the chamber, given the vice president’s power to cast tiebreaking votes. But that is a tall order in a state with deep conservative roots, and Republicans felt reasonably confident they could hang onto at least one of the seats needed to deny Democrats the majority.

Two other Senate races, in North Carolina and in Alaska, had not yet been called. But Republicans were leading in both and expected to win, putting them at 50 seats to the Democrats’ 48.

Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Wherever absentee ballots are being counted, there are officially appointed watchdogs — Republicans, Democrats, impartial observers — whose job is make sure that the tally is on the straight and narrow. But accounts of a dramatic episode in Detroit on Wednesday suggest that there, at least, the system of checks and balances went off the rails.

Election workers stationed at 134 counting tables in the city’s convention hall, the TCF Center, began the day fielding occasional complaints from Republican observers that suspicious signatures and other potential flaws merited setting some ballots aside for scrutiny. That is not unusual; the basic task of election observers is to ensure that the opposition does not have its thumb on the electoral scales.

But by midafternoon, word filtered into the hall that the Trump campaign had filed lawsuits contesting the legitimacy of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s emerging lead in Michigan. And inside the hall, people who were there say, the behavior of Republican observers abruptly shifted.

“I was walking around and I heard their supervisor say, ‘OK, now we’re going to challenge every ballot,’” Julie Maroney, a University of Michigan law student who was a nonpartisan observer of the count, said in an interview on Friday. “‘Say, I assert my challenge to this ballot; I assert my challenge to this ballot.’”

Those instructions, she and others said, ground ballot processing to a crawl, as election workers summoned supervisors to settle disputes and Republican and Democratic observers alike scribbled down ballot numbers and other details that might prove useful in court battles over the ballots’ legitimacy.

As the delay dragged on, Ms. Maroney and others said, fatigued poll workers became angry, accusing the Republican observers of trying to obstruct the count. Ms. Maroney and others said some challengers were ejected from the counting room, drawing loud cheers from others in the hall.

“There were probably two or three hours where there was an uncomfortable situation,” said Brian Remlinger, another Michigan law student and observer. The resulting delay “ratcheted up tension in the room” and pushed the end of counting into the evening.

Ms. Maroney, who recounted the experience on Twitter, said she found the confrontations distressing. “They weren’t there to challenge; they were there to suppress,” she said.

Ms. Maroney and Mr. Remlinger said election workers in the counting room did a remarkable job amid the hostility. “This was the first real test of the process,” Mr. Remlinger said, “and it was deeply impressive how it was handled. They did their jobs.”

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

PHILADELPHIA — Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the lead over President Trump in Pennsylvania on Friday morning as Democrats grew increasingly confident that he would win the state and with it the presidency: The state’s 20 electoral votes would put Mr. Biden, who has 253 electoral votes, past the 270-vote threshold for victory.

By early Saturday morning, after more votes were counted from Philadelphia and other counties that have supported Mr. Biden, he led Mr. Trump by more than 28,000 votes.

Mr. Biden had steadily erased Mr. Trump’s early lead in the state — at one point, the president led by half a million votes — as ballots, mostly absentee and mail-in votes, were counted over the past few days. Most of the remaining uncounted votes in the state are in Democratic-leaning areas.

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Philadelphia elections officials said that they had about 40,000 ballots left to count in the city.

The remaining ballots “generally fall into one of three categories: those that require a review, provisionals and U.S. military overseas ballots,” said Lisa Deeley, one of the city commissioners in Philadelphia in charge of elections. “I would estimate there’s approximately 40,000 remaining to be counted.”

“We can also tell you that it may take several days to complete the reporting of that,” Ms. Deeley added.

On Thursday, Kathy Boockvar, the Pennsylvania secretary of state, told CNN that the “overwhelming majority” of the state’s remaining votes would be counted by Friday.

Pennsylvania Democratic officials have said their analysis of the uncounted votes gave them confidence that Mr. Biden would win the state by a substantial margin.

“We believe when the votes are counted, it’s pretty clear that Joe Biden’s going to be president of the United States, because he’s going to win Pennsylvania,” said State Senator Sharif Street, the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, on Thursday.

Mr. Trump has baselessly insisted that post-Election Day tallies showing Mr. Biden leading in battleground states, including Pennsylvania, were the result of fraud, and has vowed to challenge them in court. His campaign showed no sign of an imminent concession Friday morning.

“The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final,” a lawyer for the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia dismissed those accusations on Friday.

“While some including the President continue to spew baseless claims of fraud, claims for which his team has not produced one iota of evidence, what we have seen here in Philadelphia is democracy, pure and simple,” Mr. Kenney said.

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said that if Mr. Biden won the election and Mr. Trump refused to concede, “The United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

Credit…Bridget Bennett for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. widened his lead over President Trump in Nevada on Friday from about 11,000 votes to about 22,500, and moved closer to victory there, as his advantage over Mr. Trump grew to 1.8 percentage points.

Nevada has six electoral votes and its entire Election Day vote has been counted; the late mail and provisional ballots that remain lean Democratic. About 9 percent of the state’s votes have yet to be tabulated.

Final results might not be announced until Saturday or Sunday, elections officials have said.

The Trump campaign has already identified Nevada, which allows any losing candidate to request a recount, as one of the battleground states where it hopes to use the courts and procedural maneuvers to stave off defeat in the Electoral College. Less than 24 hours before Election Day, a Nevada judge rejected a lawsuit filed by Republicans who had tried to stop early vote counting in Clark County.

Since Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump in Nevada by 2.4 percentage points in 2016, the state has turned a deeper shade of blue, with Democrats controlling the governor’s office and legislature, both Senate seats and all but one House seat. It was not widely expected to be a battleground state this year.

But while recent polls consistently showed Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump in Nevada, Democrats worried that the pandemic would make it difficult to create a robust election turnout operation. The state has reported more than 104,000 coronavirus cases.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

ATLANTA — As former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took a narrow lead over President Trump in Georgia, Georgia’s secretary of state said Friday that the presidential race there was so close that a recount was inevitable.

As of Friday evening, Mr. Biden led Mr. Trump in Georgia by about more than 4,000 votes.

“With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia,” the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said Friday morning at the state Capitol.

He added: “The final tally in Georgia at this point has huge implications for the entire country. The stakes are high and emotions are high on all sides. We will not let those debates distract us from our work. We will get it right, and we will defend the integrity of our elections.”

Gabriel Sterling, an official with the secretary of state’s office, said that a pool of about 4,200 ballots — most of them absentee ballots — remained to be tallied in four counties: Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee and Floyd. The largest tranche to be counted was in Gwinnett County, which contains Atlanta suburban communities and has gone from leaning Republican to leaning Democratic in recent years.

The state must also deal with ballots from military and overseas voters, which will be counted if they arrive in the mail before the end of business Friday and were postmarked by Tuesday.

Mr. Sterling said that the unofficial tally of the votes could be completed by the end of the weekend.

Flipping Georgia, a state last won by a Democrat in 1992, and where Mr. Trump won by more than 200,000 votes four years ago, would represent a significant political shift this year, but the state has shown signs of trending blue. When Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, he did so by five percentage points, a far slimmer margin than Republicans had enjoyed in previous presidential elections.

Mr. Biden’s late surge in this year’s count, thanks to his dominance in Atlanta, Savannah and the increasingly Democratic-friendly suburbs around both, transformed the competition in a traditionally Republican-leaning state into one of the closest contests in the nation.

As the count narrowed and it appeared that the two candidates would be separated by the slimmest of margins, Democrats urged voters in the state to fix ballots that had been rejected because of invalid or missing signatures before the deadline on Friday evening.

Those who voted absentee — a group that this year has been heavily Democratic — can check online to see whether election officials have accepted or rejected their ballots. Absentee ballots are often rejected when the voter forgets to sign or uses a signature that does not match the one on file with the state, in some cases because the filed signature is many years old. Election officials are supposed to contact voters in such cases but are not always able to do so.

Voters have until 5 p.m. on Friday to submit an affidavit form to “cure” such ballots. With Georgia hanging in the balance as the last votes are counted, national Democrats — including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — are amplifying the message in hopes of salvaging every vote possible.

Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As the nation awaits the final tally in the presidential election, the Trump administration appears to have used a shuffling of top jobs at the United States Agency for International Development to keep a political appointee in charge of the global development organization.

The move offers a possible indication that, win or lose, President Trump intends to continue to defy the usual post-election comity to muscle through his policies and appointees for as long as he can.

Unexpectedly on Friday, the administration fired the deputy at U.S.A.I.D., which will keep her boss in power, since the move came just hours before his appointment was to expire.

Two officials confirmed that the deputy administrator, Bonnie Glick, was told around 2:45 p.m. Friday that she would be out of her job at 5 p.m.

Her termination came shortly after the agency’s acting administrator, John Barsa, was notified by internal lawyers that his 210-day appointment would expire at midnight Friday, and that he would go back to his previous post as an assistant administrator. Had she not been fired, Ms. Glick would have become the acting administrator.

In a statement, the aid agency confirmed that Friday was Ms. Glick’s last day on the job and called her “a tremendous champion of, and for, USAID.” It did not include details of her firing and a spokeswoman declined further comment.

Mr. Barsa was a Senate-confirmed assistant administrator, overseeing Latin America policy, when the agency’s former leader, Mark Green, resigned in April.

At that point, the Trump administration tapped Mr. Barsa — over Ms. Glick, who was next in line — to run the agency in a temporary capacity.

Now, with Ms. Glick gone, Mr. Barsa is in line to be the acting deputy administrator — and will, in effect, run the agency, since there is no Senate-confirmed administrator. One official described it as a “Game of Thrones” move.

It is not clear why the White House or State Department refused to name Ms. Glick as the agency’s acting administrator either of the times she was passed over. One of the officials said she and Mr. Barsa have not gotten along since he was given the job in April.

The personnel chaos at the aid agency, which has been beset by infighting and delays in distributing coronavirus assistance worldwide, was touched off earlier Friday by a press inquiry from Devex, an online news and community forum for development workers, which had asked about Mr. Barsa’s status given that his appointment was about to expire.

Ms. Glick was confirmed by unanimous consent to her post as deputy administrator of the agency in January 2019. She is a registered Republican in Maryland.

Credit…Johnathon Kelso for The New York Times

Stacey Abrams, who earlier this year was on a short list of potential vice-presidential candidates, was ultimately not chosen by Joseph R. Biden Jr. But on Friday, as Mr. Biden took a narrow lead in Georgia, it was Ms. Abrams who was celebrated, a sign of her remarkable ascent as a power broker since her failed bid for governor of that state two years ago.

Celebrities, activists and voters across Georgia credited Ms. Abrams with moving past her loss — she came within 55,000 votes of the governor’s mansion — and building a well-funded network of organizations that highlighted voter suppression in the state and inspired an estimated 800,000 residents to register to vote.

“You have to build the infrastructure to organize and motivate your base, and you have to persuade people,” said Jason Carter, a Democrat who was the party’s candidate for governor in 2014. “Stacey built that infrastructure, and Donald Trump’s presidency energized that infrastructure, and it opened up voters to persuasion who were previously not open, particularly in the suburbs.”

Mr. Biden pulled ahead of President Trump in Georgia, a state that has not elected a Democratic presidential candidate in nearly three decades, and maintained a slight lead throughout Friday. He was up about 4,100 votes Friday evening with more than 98 percent of the ballots counted. Because of the small margin, the secretary of state confirmed there would be a recount.

Still, Democrats in the state were jubilant.

Ms. Abrams declined to comment on Friday. But in a tweet, she wrote, “My heart is full.” And she cited the work of other activists. “Georgia, let’s shout out those who’ve been in the trenches and deserve the plaudits for change.”

If Mr. Biden holds onto his slim lead in Georgia, her profile is likely to grow.

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

As the presidential race inches agonizingly toward a conclusion, it might be easy to miss the fact that the results are not actually very close.

With many ballots still outstanding in heavily Democratic cities, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., with more than 74 million votes, was leading President Trump by 4.1 million votes nationwide on Friday afternoon. His lead is expected to expand, perhaps substantially, as officials finish counting.

This means more Americans have voted for a Democrat for president than for a Republican in each of the past four elections, and seven of the past eight, the exception being 2004, when President George W. Bush beat John Kerry by about three million votes. But, depending on the outcome this year, only four or five times in those eight elections have Democrats gone on to occupy the White House.

It looks likely that Mr. Biden will secure an Electoral College win. But the days of nail-biting over close races in individual states, in contrast to the decisive preference of the American public, have crystallized some Americans’ anger at a system in which a minority of people often claim a majority of power.

“We look at a map of so-called red and blue states and treat that map as land and not people,” said Carol Anderson, a professor of African-American studies at Emory University who researches voter suppression. “Why, when somebody has won millions more votes than their opponent, are we still deliberating over 10,000 votes here, 5,000 votes there?”

Mr. Biden’s current popular vote lead is larger than the individual populations of more than 20 states. It is also more than a million votes larger than Hillary Clinton’s already large popular vote advantage four years ago. Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump in the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes, or 2.1 percentage points; Mr. Biden is currently ahead by 2.8 points.

The outcome could give new fuel, at least temporarily, to long-shot efforts to eliminate or circumvent the Electoral College.

John Koza, chairman of National Popular Vote Inc., which lobbies states to pledge their electors to the winner of the national popular vote, said his group would intensify efforts next year in Arizona, Minnesota, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, among others.

There are similar structural issues in the Senate, where the current Democratic minority was elected with more votes than the Republican majority and where by 2040, based on population projections, about 70 percent of Americans will be represented by 30 percent of senators.

“It’s not that the states that are represented by the 30 percent are all red, but what we do know is that the states that are going to have 70 senators are in no way representative of the diversity in the country,” said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The more this happens, the more you get the sense that voters don’t have a say in the choice of their leaders,” he said. “And you cannot have a democracy over a period of time that survives if a majority of people believe that their franchise is meaningless.”

Credit…Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said that President Trump “was wrong to say the election was rigged, corrupt or stolen” and that doing so “damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions.”

The Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a state that could send Mr. Biden to the White House but where Mr. Trump has baselessly claimed there had been fraud, said, “The president’s allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated.”

And Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, another Republican, wrote that there was “no defense” for Mr. Trump’s comments “undermining our democratic process.”

A growing number of Republicans were speaking out against Mr. Trump’s false allegations that the election had been rigged against him, especially after the president delivered a rambling jeremiad filled with conspiracy theories in the White House briefing room on Thursday.

“I saw the president’s speech last night,” Mr. Toomey said Friday morning. “It was very hard to watch.”

A few hours later, Mr. Romney, a semi-frequent Trump critic, wrote on Twitter that while the president was “within his rights to request recounts” and to call out “irregularities where evidence exists,” the president’s statements were reckless.

Some Trump allies did rally around the president. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appeared on Fox News on Thursday to defend Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud. “I don’t trust Philadelphia,” he said, referring to the city where Mr. Biden has gotten more than 80 percent of the vote. He offered no evidence for his statement.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also appeared on the network and accused Democrats of trying to steal the election. He also offered no evidence to back his assertion.

Many prominent Republican lawmakers remained silent, declining to cross Mr. Trump over the results of an election that was slipping away from the incumbent.

At a news conference on Thursday night in Atlanta with Donald Trump Jr., in which Republican supporters chanted “stop the steal,” Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia congressman who just lost a bid for Senate, suggested without evidence that something was awry in the election. “Transparency only seems to be good when the Democrats like the transparency, and the media are willing to go along with it,” he said.

And Tommy Tuberville, a senator-elect from Alabama and a former Auburn University football coach, echoed the president on Twitter.

“The election results are out of control,” Mr. Tuberville wrote. “It’s like the whistle has blown, the game is over, and the players have gone home, but the referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, at first sidestepped questions on Wednesday about whether he agreed with Mr. Trump that election officials should halt their tabulations.

But by Thursday evening, he grew more vocal, writing in a tweet: “Republicans will not be silenced. We demand transparency. We demand accuracy. And we demand that the legal votes be protected.”

Credit…Olivier Touron/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

PHOENIX — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has maintained a steady but narrowing lead in Arizona vote tallies after Election Day, with Latino voters lining up behind the former vice president in a state that President Trump won by three and a half percentage points in 2016.

On Friday evening, Mr. Biden’s advantage stood at just under 30,000 votes.

Even Mr. Biden’s narrow edge underscored a profound political shift in Arizona, a longtime Republican bastion that has lurched left in recent years, fueled by rapidly evolving demographics and a growing contingent of young Latino voters who favor liberal policies.

In one of the brightest spots for Democrats so far, the former astronaut Mark Kelly defeated the state’s Republican senator, Martha McSally, in a special election, making Mr. Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema the first pair of Democrats to represent Arizona in the Senate since the 1950s.



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