Donald Trump’s campaign is going to request a recount of the results in Wisconsin, despite the results not yet being officially declared.
Ninety seven per cent of votes have been counted, and reports suggest Joe Biden is on course to claim the state by a wafer-thin margin of 20,000 votes, representing less than one per cent.
Bill Stepien, Mr Trump’s campaign manager, confirmed the decision.
“The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so,” he said.
He also complained, without evidence, of irregularities in the vote.
You cannot make a formal request for a recount until 10 days after the election.
Recounts are not unusual, but they do drag out the process of determining the next president. How long it will take depends on how close it is, and how contentious it is.
Federal law requires that all recounts be finished 35 days after the election. The candidates’ campaigns must pay for the cost.
More than 1.9 million people voted early, either by mail or in person, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those ballots take longer than a regular ballot to process, and the counting could not begin until the polls opened Tuesday, delaying the reporting of results.
Mr Trump led earlier in the night, fueled by in-person voting results, but the 169,000 outstanding ballots from Milwaukee and ballots from other cities broke heavily for Joe Biden.
“When all votes are counted, we’re confident that Joe Biden will win Wisconsin,” tweeted Ben Winkler, chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Mr Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton’s totals from 2016 in urban areas while Mr Trump did better in small towns and rural areas than he did four years ago.
It was not the first time absentee ballots from Milwaukee could be a difference maker in a high-profile race. Absentee ballots in Milwaukee delivered the 2018 race for governor to Democrat Tony Evers over Walker late in the night that year.
Mr Trump carried Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, and the race figured to be just as close this year. There are no automatic recounts in Wisconsin. Only a candidate who is within 1% of the winner can request a recount.
Three of the past five presidential elections in Wisconsin were decided by less than a percentage point.
Mr Trump, in 2016, was the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since 1984.
Polls leading up to the election had shown Mr Biden with a larger lead, just as they had for Ms Clinton four years earlier.
In 2000, Al Gore won Wisconsin by just 5,708 votes over George W. Bush, a difference of just 0.22 per cent. Trump’s win in 2016 was 0.77 per cent and was subject to a recount requested by the Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
In that recount, Ms Clinton gained 713 votes, and Mr Trump picked up 844, resulting in a net increase for Mr Trump of 131 votes.
The Milwaukee absentee votes were among a record-high 1.9 million cast before Election Day. Then more than 1 million people voted in person Tuesday, despite surging coronavirus cases in Wisconsin that also drove the absentee voting. The total votes were expected to break the record high turnout of the 2012 election.
Wisconsin decided the 2016 presidential election and both campaigns made it a focus this year.
Mr Trump made four stops in Wisconsin in the final 10 days of the race, while Mr Biden came once.
Overall turnout looked to be nearly 3.2 million, which would be the highest ever in Wisconsin. The previous high was slightly over 3 million in 2012.