President Trump prematurely declared that he had won reelection early Wednesday morning, while millions of votes had yet to be counted in the key states that could decide the contest in former Vice President Joe Biden’s favor.
“Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight, and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people. And we won’t stand for it,” Trump said to a group of supporters in the East Room of the White House at around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Election officials in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Nevada and Alaska, which all remained too close to call, continued to count the votes that will decide which candidate reaches the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes to claim victory.
As of 3:30 a.m. ET, Biden had 238 electoral votes to 213 for Trump. If Trump were in fact to carry all the states where he was in the lead, he would win the election comfortably. But that’s not how elections work.
“We won Texas by 700,000 votes, and they don’t even include it in the tabulations,” Trump said. “It’s also clear that we have won Georgia. We’re up by 2.5 percent or 117,000 votes, with only 7 percent left. They’re never going to catch us. They can’t catch us.”
After Trump was declared the winner in Texas, networks added the state’s 38 electoral votes to his total, so it was not clear what the president meant. In Georgia, news organizations like the Associated Press had held off making a call, because there were still enough uncounted votes to allow either candidate to win there.
Trump also complained that North Carolina had yet to be called in his favor, and took issue with Fox News for calling the race in Arizona for Biden.
“If you look and you see, Arizona we have a lot of life in that, and somebody said, somebody declared that it was a victory for, and maybe it will be — I mean that’s possible, but certainly there were a lot of votes out there that we could get, because we’re now just coming into what we call Trump territory.”
Moments after the president delivered his remarks, the Associated Press projected that Biden had won the state of Arizona and its 11 electoral votes.
Trump also claimed victory in Michigan, where he was leading, but only 55 percent of the vote had been tallied at the time he was speaking.
Then, repeating a contention that he has often floated, Trump alleged that Democrats had launched a conspiracy against him, using mail-in ballots.
“I’ve been saying this since the day I heard they were going to send out tens of millions of ballots. Because either they were going to win, or if they didn’t win, they were going to take us to court,” Trump said.
A few moments later, though, he went on, “We will be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
In truth, the counting of votes in American presidential elections routinely drags on for days, as absentee and mail-in ballots are tabulated. Twenty-three states allow for those ballots to be tallied after Election Day, as long as they are postmarked by the date of the election. State legislatures controlled by Republicans in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have refused to allow election officials there to tabulate mail ballots before Election Day.
Trump may not like it, but that is the way our elections are conducted, despite his months of campaigning to discredit voting by mail and his insistence that this year, the counting of votes not extend beyond Nov. 3.
“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”