US President-elect Joe Biden is moving closer to formally claiming the White House as states push ahead with certifying election results despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the vote.
Mr Trump’s attempts to cling to power appear more forlorn than ever with officials in Georgia saying a soon-to-be-completed recount isn’t likely to change Mr Biden’s victory there.
Georgia is one of several states where Mr Trump’s campaign is contesting election returns, so far without success.
Authorities there said recount results due to be announced on Thursday (local time) were not likely to overturn Mr Biden’s 14,000-vote victory in the state.
A second county uncovered votes not previously included in election results, but the additional votes won’t change the overall outcome of the presidential race, the secretary of state’s office said.
A memory card that hadn’t been uploaded in Fayette County, just south of Atlanta, was discovered during a hand tally that was ordered as part of a statewide recount.
Officials also said the recount would not provide evidence for Mr Trump’s unsupported claims of widespread fraud.
“He’s been misinformed on that front,” Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system manager, said.
Election officials in Wisconsin likewise said a partial recount requested by the Trump campaign would not reverse the Republican incumbent’s loss in that state, which he won in 2016.
Mr Trump himself has stayed out of the public eye while venting his anger on Twitter.
His lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan have met with little success.
Mr Trump’s refusal to concede the November 3 election is blocking the smooth transition to a new administration and complicating Mr Biden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic when he takes office on January 20.
Opinion polls show Mr Trump’s unfounded claims about the election having been “rigged” have a political benefit, with as many as half of Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans believing them.
Arizona’s top election official, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said she faced escalating threats of violence and blamed Mr Trump for spreading misinformation to undermine trust in results.
The President is holding out hope a manual recount ordered by Georgia can erase Mr Biden’s lead there.
The state’s top election official said that was unlikely.
“I don’t believe at the end of the day it’ll change the total results,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, told CNN.
As of Wednesday morning, Mr Biden’s lead over Mr Trump had fallen to 12,781 ballots, down from 14,156 previously, according to Mr Sterling, the state voting system manager.
Mr Sterling said he expected the recount to be completed by midnight local time on Wednesday and certified by Friday.
In Wisconsin, the state Elections Commission said it would oversee recounts in two heavily Democratic counties – Milwaukee and Dane, which includes Madison – after the Trump campaign paid $US3 million ($4.1 million), less than the $US7.9 million estimated cost of a statewide recount.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said a recount would start on Friday and finish within days.
He said it would probably not change the tally significantly.
In the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the election winner, Mr Biden captured 306 votes to Mr Trump’s 232. He won the popular vote by more than 5.8 million.
To remain in office, Mr Trump would need to overturn results in at least three large and closely competitive states to reach the threshold of 270 electoral votes. That would be unprecedented.
Mr Trump is also challenging results in Michigan, falsely claiming on Wednesday the number of votes in Detroit had surpassed the number of residents. The largest city in the state is heavily Democratic.
“In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!” he tweeted.
City records show that 250,138 votes were cast there in the presidential election. That is a little more than a third of the city’s population, which according to the US Census Bureau is 670,031.