President Donald Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania continues a long slide as the mail-in ballot count in the state entered its third day Thursday, with his lead down to 114,000 votes with still 369,000 more to tally, according to the state’s official election tally.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia temporarily halted mail-in ballot counting shortly before noon Thursday to address a court ruling. A state court judge ordered that observers for the Trump campaign must be allowed greater access at the Pennsylvania Convention Center while ballots are tallied.
The count was halted for less than an hour, but resumed about 12:15 p.m. The city has appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s overwhelming advantage from mail-in ballots already counted in Pennsylvania — roughly 2.24 million of them — has given his campaign optimism that he will eventually overtake Trump. It could happen as soon as Thursday afternoon. The Trump campaign remains hopeful his lead will hold.
Trump has promised legal challenge galore, both in Pennsylvania and other states that he has already apparently lost — Wisconsin and Michigan — and states he has yet to lose — Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.
Those last three states, as well as North Carolina, could announce updated results Thursday and render Pennsylvania’s place at the center of the election moot.
The race could hinge on Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada because if Biden is declared the winner in any two of those three states, he will surpass the needed 270 electoral college votes.
Yet a win in Pennsylvania by Biden will single-handedly hand him the White House. It remains unclear how long it will take for counties across the state, including Philadelphia, to finish tallying their mail-in ballots.
The slow grind toward counting all 2.6 million mail-in-votes has been expected for months because the Republican-controlled state legislature refused to change the election code to allow for the counting of mail-in ballots before Nov. 3.
Election officials across the state expect the vast majority of the votes to be counted by Friday. In just Philadelphia, for instance, 91,000 votes still need to be counted, according to the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s website.
A county commissioner there said Wednesday that they can count about 10,000 votes per hour.
Pennsylvania narrowly went for Trump in 2016 when the President won by 44,000 votes or 0.4%. Troubling signs for Trump this election is showing up in counties like Lackawanna County, where Biden was born. Hillary Clinton barely won in there in 2016. This year, Biden won that county easily. In Northampton County, where Trump won four years ago, Biden is now winning. The Trump slide in Pennsylvania prompted his campaign to send lawyers, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to Philadelphia to begin protesting the results. They have put their hopes in halting vote counting as soon as possible. They alleged a lack of transparency in the process, without citing any actual issues or problems.
The last count Philadelphia put out Thursday morning, based in figures showed about 253,000 mail-in ballots had been processed. In neighboring Montgomery and Chester counties, officials announced that all mail-in-ballots received by 8 p. m. on election day had been processed as of Thursday morning.